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Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2003 passed by Legislative Council


The Legislative Council today (March 24) passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2003 (to be known as the "Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2004" after its enactment) and approved the Copyright (Suspension of Amendments) Ordinance 2001 (Amendment) Notice 2004.

When the Amendment Ordinance commences operation on September 1, 2004, it will be an offence for a person to possess, for the purpose of or in the course of a profit-making copying service business, an infringing copy of a copyright work as published in a book, magazine or periodical unless the person can successfully invoke one of the statutory defences provided under the Amendment Ordinance. These defences are aimed at ensuring that a person would not be convicted if the infringing copy in question was not made for the purpose of and in the course of the copying service business, or was not made for profit and reward.

"Under the existing Copyright Ordinance, making an infringing copy of a copyright work for sale or hire is already an offence. Practically speaking, the newly enacted offence will not change the scope of the existing offence as far as copyshops are concerned; but it will facilitate enforcement action and prosecution work against illicit reproduction of printed works and strengthen copyright protection for such works," a spokesman for the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau said.

Originally, the Bill also included provisions that would preserve the effect of the Copyright (Suspension of Amendments) Ordinance 2001 ("the Suspension Ordinance") which was due to expire in July this year. Under the Suspension Ordinance, criminal liability for possessing infringing copies in business ("end-user criminal liability") is confined to four categories of works, namely computer programs, movies, musical recordings and television dramas.

"However, copyright work owners and users need more time to consider the appropriate scope of end-user criminal liability. To allow more time for continued discussions in this regard, all provisions relating to end-user criminal liability have been deleted from the Bill. We will continue to discuss with copyright work owners and users on the appropriate scope of end-user criminal liability and review certain provisions of the existing Copyright Ordinance, for example the provisions on permitted acts. During this period, the scope of end-user criminal liabilities will continue to be confined to the four categories of works," the spokesman added.

The Copyright (Suspension of Amendments) Ordinance 2001 (Amendment) Notice 2004 will extend the effective period of the Suspension Ordinance for two more years until end-July 2006 and will be gazetted on Friday (March 26). The newly enacted Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 will be gazetted on April 2.

Ends/Wednesday, March 24, 2004


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