Hong Kong copyright bill

US consulate urges Hong Kong to update its copyright law to ‘foster creativity’

Spokeswoman calls for ‘active engagement’ to modernise the city’ intellectual property laws

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 6:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 7:43pm

The US consulate called for “active engagement” to modernise Hong Kong’s intellectual property laws, as the controversial copyright bill was debated in the Legislative Council today.

Pan-democrats proposed three amendments to the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 – fair use, user-generated content and contract override .

Consulate spokeswoman Darragh Paradiso said the laws should better reflect the digital media environment today.

“The United States has consistently affirmed that protecting intellectual property rights is essential to the promotion of creativity and innovation,” Paradiso said.

“Strong IPR protection fosters the creative work of artists, inventors, and start-up entrepreneurs and is integral to the rule of law and good governance. We continue to encourage the active engagement of all parties to modernise Hong Kong’s intellectual property laws to better reflect today’s digital media environment.”

The Hong Kong Copyright Alliance also held its rescheduled press conference today to oppose the three proposed amendments, after its meeting last Sunday was disrupted by a radical activist group.

The alliance, which expressed support for the bill, had to scrap its press meeting on December 13 after 10 members of Civic Passion turned up, causing a scuffle and prompting participants to walk out.

At the press conference this morning at the Shangri-La Hotel Kowloon in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sam Ho, managing director of the Hong Kong International Screen Association who was standing in for alliance spokesman Peter Lam Yuk-wah, said it was too late to make last-minute amendments to a bill that had already taken over a decade to formulate.

“We accept the government’s [copyright] bill with tears in our eyes,” said Ho, who said the alliance had hoped for an even stricter law but had agreed to compromise in order to pass the bill first.

“We are over a decade behind the rest of the world in copyright laws and it’s affecting our competitiveness [in the creative industry].”

Under the bill currently under debate in the Legislative Council, derivative material based on copyrighted works would be exempted from criminal and civil liability if used for parody, satire, caricature, pastiche or commentary on current events – but “sufficient acknowledgement” will still need to be provided.

Ricky Fung Tim-chee, chief executive officer of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong Group) and a member of the alliance, said adding the three amendments would render the law “completely useless” and unable to protect copyrighted work.