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SCED's transcript on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011

     Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a media session on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011 today (April 26):

     With regard to the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011 (the Bill), we have just had a meeting with two members of the Civic Party to listen to their views. I want to repeat some of the points I have made earlier. I also notice that there is some online discussion with information that may not be correct.  So I want to clarify a few points.

     The first point is, if the Bill is enacted, even after the Bill is enacted, sharing a hyperlink online will not incur criminal liability. Secondly, there is nothing in the Bill that criminalises downloading activities. Thirdly, under the Bill, there isn't any provision dealing with parody. The fourth point is, if the activity or work is not infringing under the existing law, the situation remains the same under the new amendment.  I just want to clarify these points so that there will not be further misunderstanding.  We will work with Legislative Council members and to pass the Bill because we are behind in terms of international standard.  In Australia and the UK, communication right has been given relative legislation in 2001 and 2003.  So, in order for Hong Kong to develop and to protect intellectual property rights, we need to update the law.  The purpose of the Bill is to have our copyright regime updated and enhanced.  We will work very closely with the Legislative Council to have the amendment bill passed to enhance our system.

Reporter: Under the amendment proposed, will secondary creation be prosecuted?

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development:  The existing section 118(1)(g) of the Copyright Ordinance already contains criminal sanctions against certain copyright infringement acts which are done for non-commercial purposes, if it is to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the copyright owner.  The current amendment that we want to introduce is to reflect in the past some cases decided by the court, and the factors that the court have decided.  We now basically include those factors in the new amendment to reflect and to clarify these points.  I would also like to thank the Hon Ronny Tong for suggesting some amendments to enhance the whole system.  The Government has listened to his view and we are quite ready to take it on board to enhance this.  One point I also want to emphasise is the fact on parody - the current demand about exemption.  We would do another round of consultation.  This amendment does not deal specifically with parody.  We need to consult all the relevant stakeholders before we would proceed, from a procedural point of view, introduce any amendments such as exemption, as it would affect the right of the copyright owners.  In order for us to decide the way forward, a consultation needs to be conducted.

Reporter: ......In the beginning, it is said that parody and satire are found to infringe property right......and at the end parody will be dealt with in another consultation.  I don't understand......

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development:  The precise wording in terms of section 118 (1)(g) of the Copyright Ordinance as it stands right now, it said if it is for non-commercial use, in order to incur criminal liability, it has to be to the extent that it would be prejudicial to the interest of the copyright owners.  The demand that we hear very recently is that we should exempt parody from this.  If we work to exempt parody, because it would also affect the right of copyright owners, the proper procedure is for us to do a consultation to hear the views of different stakeholders including netizens, including the general public, including copyright owners.  Without a consultation at this stage, to say that we want to exempt parody would not procedurally be appropriate, and that is my point.

Reporter:  So you want a consultation before you bring in the amendment, or you want to......

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development:  We are now proceeding up to this stage and this process has gone through proper procedure of the Legislative Council, engaging the public, engaging the Legislative Council members.  Having gone through the bills committee all these amendments, we are about to resume the second reading.  Now we hear the demand that we should not proceed with the second reading of the Bill.  I am saying that the Bill does not deal with parody.  So why do we hold this and wait for a consultation?  Why can't we have it passed first?  This is a new demand that is now made on us.

     If you look at the other jurisdictions, no one, anywhere in the world, in their legislation is able to define what parody is.  Some recognise that there might also be a difference between satire and parody.  This is precisely why we need to do a consultation to hear from our stakeholders to have a broader perspective before we decide whether to exempt, what to exempt and have the definition.  Right now no one seems to be able to do that.  The Bill is not related to parody.  That is my point.  If we cannot define what parody or satire is, how are you going to exempt people?  That is my question.  So we need to consult the public and stakeholders, but the Bill does not deal with parody.  What does not incur criminal liability now will not incur criminal liability after the amendment bill is passed.  That is my point.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, April 26, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:37


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