Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the Legislative Council in moving the second reading of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill today (December 19)ĄG(Translation)
I move that the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2001 be read the second time.
The Bill seeks to liberalise parallel importation of computer software.
Parallel importation means the importation without the permission of the copyright owner of a copy of a copyright work which was lawfully made elsewhere. Under the Copyright Ordinance, for a copyright work that has been published for less than 18 months, it is a criminal offence to import otherwise than for private and domestic use or sell a copy of that work which is an infringing copy by virtue of its parallel importation. The maximum penalty is $50,000 per infringing copy and four years' imprisonment.
In general, the parallel importation or subsequent sale of a copy of a copyright work which has been published for more than 18 months will not attract any criminal liability but civil remedies, such as injunction, delivery up and damage, are still available to the copyright owner.
The Bill seeks to remove the above civil and criminal liabilities in relation to computer software. To liberalise parallel importation of computer software will increase competition and availability of products in the market, resulting in more choice and lower prices for consumers. This would especially help to ease the financial burden of small and medium enterprises in purchasing legitimate computer software.
The proposed liberalisation is in line with our free-market philosophy and our policy to facilitate the free flow of genuine goods. It is also in step with the growing popularity of purchases through the Internet. During a public consultation in mid this year, the proposal was supported by this Council and the majority of the public.
The scope of the liberalisation includes business computer software as well as software for educational and entertainment purposes but excludes products of movies, television dramas and music recordings which can be played in a computer.
The Bill also includes transitional provisions to apply the new law retrospectively to remove outstanding criminal liabilities related to parallel importation of and dealing in such software before the commencement of the new law. As regards civil liability, the copyright owner shall retain all their rights under the prevailing law in relation to infringing acts committed before the commencement of the new law.
Madam President, thank you.
End/Wednesday, December 19, 2001