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Speech by SCIT at Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award Presentation Ceremony

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph W P Wong, at the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award Presentation Ceremony today (March 22) (Translation):

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the phonographic sector,

     Good evening.  It gives me great pleasure to join you all at the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award Presentation Ceremony.

     This year's presentation ceremony is of special significance as it marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong Group) as well as the 30th anniversary of the Top Sales Music Award since its launch in 1977.

     Around that time, in the 1970's, Cantopop became a popular genre in Hong Kong.  With its development in the 1980's and 1990's, it has reached out to the Chinese communities all over the world and enjoyed immense popularity.  As a matter of fact, Cantopop has established itself as one of the fine Hong Kong brands of creative works.

     Hong Kong's music industry has also gone from strength to strength.  In the realm of music, new elements have been introduced from time to time to delight music fans.  On the format of release, cassette tapes of the past have evolved into legal downloading by digital means of today, allowing music fans to buy their favourites in a much more convenient way.  While creativity and the art of performance are your cup of tea, the SAR Government's responsibility is to maintain a robust intellectual property protection regime to promote the healthy development of creative industries.

     Last year, considerable efforts were made by the SAR Government to protect intellectual property by improving the relevant laws and regulations and promoting public education and law enforcement.  These efforts have paid off.  On the legislative front, we are committed to ensuring that the Copyright Ordinance is in line with the present-day circumstances.  In March, 2006, we introduced the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2006 to the Legislative Council, which proposes various amendments for the purpose of strengthening copyright protection and making our copyright exemption regime more flexible.  One of the major amendments proposes new liabilities against activities that circumvent technological measures for copyright protection.  Amendments in this aspect will facilitate the phonographic sector to develop more sales channels on the Internet.

     In addition, we published a consultation document in late 2006 to solicit public opinion on how protection of copyright works could be strengthened in the digital environment.  Various issues were examined in the document, including whether the act of unauthorised downloading of copyright works from the Internet should be criminalised, how to facilitate copyright owners to take civil actions against online infringement, and the role of online service providers in combating Internet piracy.  These are the key issues causing concern to the phonographic sector.  We will give due consideration to the views of different sectors of the community and draw reference from overseas experience before making a decision.

     On law enforcement, the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) has been taking vigorous action against infringing activities.  In 2006, the department detected 18 cases involving copyright infringement on the Internet, leading to the arrest of 23 people.  Furthermore, the department has implemented the Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Department and the industries.  Under the Scheme, members of 11 local youth uniform organisations assist in monitoring and removing BitTorrent (BT) seeds from the Internet to tackle infringing activities at source.  Since the launch of the Scheme in mid-July 2006, the C&ED has received about 880 notifications form the Youth Ambassadors.  In respect of the pursuable cases, the copyright owners have issued some 200 letters to the concerned webmasters, so that the latter may take action to remove the BT seeds from the websites effectively.  Separately, we have organised a wide range of training and educational activities for the Youth Ambassadors, such as seminars, slogan design competition, and visits to production venues of copyright works.  Through these activities, we aim to promote a respect for intellectual property rights, and encourage the younger generation to respect creativity while appreciating the creative works.  Relevant government departments will keep up their publicity and educational efforts in this area.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I have outlined the major endeavours of the SAR Government in copyright protection over the past year.  You can rest assured that the SAR Government will spare no efforts to combat infringement activities.  We will work with the music industry to promote an environment that is conducive to investment, creation, and to this end, the vibrant development of the industry.

     Finally, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the award winners tonight.  I would also like to wish our phonographic sector continued success in the days to come.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, March 22, 2007
Issued at HKT 20:34


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