THE Hong Kong Polytechnic faces a possible multi-million dollar loss over widespread abuses of copyright legislation by the entire teaching staff at one of its key centres. An internal investigation has found that the high-profile Centre for Professional and Business English had also illegally sold course material to the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) when the material was rightly the property of the Hongkong Bank. Both the Hongkong Bank and the MTRC have terminated the services of the centre and compensation understood to be more than $130,000 has been paid to the bank. Many of the courses were fraudulently sold to leading companies throughout Hong Kong as ''company specific'' courses designed for the special needs of each company when in fact, the courses had been copied directly from standard business textbooks. A South China Morning Post investigation has confirmed that illegal photocopying was widespread and that many courses available to the public in open courses contained the same materials as those being sold to companies as ''company specific''. The problems at the centre first came to light in May when the MTRC accidentally discovered it was being supplied with course materials from the Hongkong Bank rather than for a course specific to its needs. The MTRC then notified the Hongkong Bank which demanded and was given compensation from the polytechnic. As a result, an internal panel of inquiry headed by polytechnic associate director Peter Torode was established. A centre staff member who supplied the Hongkong Bank material used in the MTRC course had his contract terminated. Negotiations between the polytechnic and the MTRC are continuing over compensation. Late yesterday, Mr Torode said the polytechnic had sought legal advice on the basis of the findings of his inquiry which was completed one month ago. He said there had been no recommendations for compensation of the publishing companies whose textbooks had been illegally photocopied. However, he admitted that inquiries had revealed that illegal photocopying of textbooks had taken place on a large scale when the centre opened about three years ago and had dwindled as time went on. Mr Torode said when the centre first opened, staff were under pressure to produce courses for as many clients as possible so the centre could become self-funded. ''The staff were under a lot of pressure and I am not saying it was justified, but it happened.'' One source told the Post that individual teachers relied almost entirely on material photocopied from textbooks during the first two years of the centre opening. It is also understood that the remaining four teaching staff were aware that Hongkong Bank material was being used in an MTRC course. Mr Torode said the entire professional staff was interviewed by his panel and they had all admitted breaching copyright legislation. He said no admissions about the copyright breaches had been made to the publishing companies concerned but agreed that compensation or fines could run into ''a lot of money'' if action was taken. He also agreed that a course sold to the MTRC had contained internal training material belonging to the Hongkong Bank. Mr Torode said all staff had been warned within the last month of potential breaches to copyright legislation. ''Warning signs have been posted at photocopy machines and a memo has been distributed,'' Mr Torode said. He said any further action was up to the polytechnic director, Professor Poon Chung-kwong, who had been supplied with the panel's findings.