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Hong Kong copyright bill

Hong Kong people barking up the wrong tree on copyright bill, insists association policy chief

John Medeiros says political suspicions weigh heavily on debate over bill which should be passed and actually protects satirists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 9:11pm

The public is “barking up the wrong tree” in its opposition to the government’s controversial copyright bill, according to a member of the creative industry.

“We regret that the issue has been heavily politicised. Decisions and actions are biased. There’s no time to craft a balanced law,” said John Medeiros, chief policy officer of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia , a member of the Hong Kong Copyright Alliance, which is pressing for passage of the bill.

READ MORE: Hong Kong copyright bill explained: Why are people so concerned about this?

Medeiros said the fundamental problem lay in suspicions about the government. He said people believed that what the government had proposed would reduce civil rights in the city.

“It’s unfortunate. We can’t solve the fundamental political problem,” Medeiros said.

The Legislative Council last month passed the second reading of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, but final endorsement remains uncertain amid pan-democrat filibustering.

Medeiros said the revised bill’s exemptions for parody, satire, pastiche, quotation and comment on current events offered extensive protection for individuals who wished to express themselves.

Medeiros cited RTHK radio presenter Steve James’ recent cover version of David Bowie’s classic Space Oddity as an example.

James’ rendition called CY Oddity mocked the political situation in Hong Kong and slammed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for not listening to the views of the people.

“This is a political commentary on current events. Under the revised law, this is an exception,” Medeiros said.

“It is an exception under the revised law even without paying licence fees. But under the current law, the copyright owner might be able to make a case.”

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

Medeiros said the bill was aimed at targeting large-scale organised piracy – particularly internet streaming – not individuals.

“Individuals might have other things to fear about. They are barking up the wrong tree,” Medeiros said.