The government has revived a plan to reform copyright law, five years after it was withdrawn amid filibustering in the legislature and opposition from some concern groups.

Officials on Wednesday launched a three-month public consultation exercise on the latest proposals.

The government said it is time to change the law as the country’s latest five-year plan includes support for Hong Kong to develop into a regional intellectual property trading centre.

The administration is proposing changes based on the framework floated in 2016 where it suggested several types of works should be exempt from new copyright legislation, including parody, satire, caricatures and commentary on current events.

It is now also proposing that using copyrighted material in online learning, libraries, archives and museums should be exempt.

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, told a press conference that the government wants to balance the rights of copyright users and owners.

“The very purpose of updating the copyright legislation is to provide the needed legal safeguards preserving copyright, which is important for the creative industry for instance,” he said.

“But of course in updating the law, we need to strike a balance and also take on practical circumstances, including parody or how we handle museums or libraries… we do not want such reasonable activities to be caught.”

Yau said there’s an urgent need to update the law.

“Because currently [the protection] of these rights is not adequate. It doesn’t cover all the different electronic transmission means. So whatever kind of media is being used, electronic transmission needs to be plugged so that copyright owners would have this protection,” he said.

Yau said the current proposals don’t include elements covering national security, but he doesn’t know what kind of suggestions will be made during the consultation exercise.

Intellectual Property Director David Wong, meanwhile, said the government would not prosecute those suspected of copyright infringement online unless the rights holder pursued the matter.

The government is also inviting views on whether people would like to see specific laws to govern illicit streaming devices like TV boxes and mobile apps, but its initial position is not to do so.





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