Hong Kong Copyright Law To Be Fiercely Debated

Hong Kong’s legislature is Wednesday to debate a bill that seeks to make the territory’s copyright laws appropriate for the Internet age.

The government seems certain to win the vote in the Legislative Council (LegCo), but the bill is likely to be fiercely contested and extra security may be drafted outside the LegCo building.

Opponents say that the bill reinforces the position of business and copyright owners, but stifles freedom of speech.

In particular, they say that the proposed law does not take enough account of user-generated-content and that it will narrow the scope for sampling of copyright works for parody.

Some opposition lawmakers put forward some 900 amendments to be discussed before the main bill is discussed, though Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has already thrown out most of the proposals. He fears an attempt to talk out the debate and delay the bill’s enactment.

The government previously tried in 2011 to update the existing 2006 law, but dropped that after similar freedom of speech concerns.

Dr Danny Friedmann, a lecturer at Hong Kong’s Chinese University says that the government’s proposed updates will be out of date the moment they come into force.

Speaking Monday on RTHK Radio 3, Friedmann said that the government is looking at overseas legal examples which are already outdated and are themselves soon to be replaced.

The government, however, seems determined to press on. It recently appointed Nicholas W Yang as the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, a new post that opponents had managed to delay for three years.

  • In a separate incident, it has emerged that Hong Kong’s police recently asked YouTube to remove a video of a policeman appearing to assault a suspect. The police said that the video would “send out the wrong message.” YouTube owner, Google turned down the request.

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