Bill proposes to update copyright regime
The Hong Kong government recently introduced the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 into the Legislative Council for its first and second readings. The bill combines new proposals formulated following earlier public consultation on the treatment of parody and legislative proposals under the former Copyright Bill 2011, which for a number of reasons failed to reach a second reading in the Legislative Council in 2012.
Key proposals under the bill include the following:
- recognising a technology-neutral exclusive right for copyright owners to communicate their works through any mode of electronic transmission and introducing corresponding criminal penalties against unauthorised communication of copyright works to the public where the infringement is conducted in the course of trade, for profit or to an extent that prejudicially affects the copyright owner.
- expanding the scope of permitted acts to allow users to use copyright works in appropriate circumstances without authorisation for the purposes of:
- parody, satire, caricature and pastiche;
- commentary on current events;
- data caching by online service providers;
- media shifting of sound recordings; and
- provision of educational instructions (especially for distance learning) and facilitation of daily operations of libraries, archives and museums; and
- establishing a safe harbour for online service providers to limit their liability for copyright infringement on their service platforms where they meet certain conditions, including taking reasonable steps to limit or stop the infringement when notified of alleged infringement.
The bill aims to enhance copyright protection in the digital environment and to strike a balance between the legitimate rights and interests of copyright owners and other public interests (eg, reasonable use of copyright and freedom of expression).
The government is keen to have the bill passed into law as early as possible, as a robust copyright regime is the cornerstone for the development of creative industries and will contribute to the vibrancy of the Hong Kong economy.
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