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Hong Kong Government Drops Controversial Copyright Legislation

The Hong Kong government announced on Friday that it had dropped its long-running attempt to introduce new copyright legislation.

Earlier this week the government said that if it could not get the draft law passed in the Legislative Council — Hong Kong’s mini parliament — that it would withdraw the bill.

Throughout the week, opponents of the bill continued to use filibustering, quorum calls and other parliamentary delaying tactics to use up all the available time for debate. The government which theoretically has a majority in LegCo chose not to force through the bill for fear of further stoking anti-government and anti-China feeling at a time when Hong Kong politics has become highly polarized.

Much of the local film and TV industry had expressed support for the copyright amendment bill, arguing that the territory’s legislation was years out of date and allows widespread piracy. Opponents of the bill argued that it endangered freedom of expression and creativity, especially online, that the bill poorly drafted and would be out of date the moment it became law.

With tensions running high, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Greg So on Thursday called the opponents “murderers.”

So had promised a period of public consultation if the bill was passed. It now appears likely that yet another consultation will have to be launched before the government can try again — possibly in July.

March 4 appears on course to be a black Friday for the media and entertainment sector in the Special Administrative Region. In addition to the copyright bill’s failure, liquidators are expected to dismiss all the remaining staff at beleaguered free-to-air broadcaster Asia Television (ATV).

 

 

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