Hong Kong: Criminalization of unauthorized derivative work

The Hong Kong Government has tabled the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011 at the Legislative Council on June 15, 2011. The bill will criminalized online derivative works that use copyrighted material without authorization. Local info activists believe that the criminalization of re-creation would result in a chilling effect for online political satires and Kuso which are usually derived from copyrighted images.

The bill, according to the government press release, aims at

introducing a technology-neutral exclusive right for copyright owners to communicate their works through any mode of electronic transmission, with ancillary criminal liability against unauthorised communication of copyright works to the public made in the course of business for profit or to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the copyright owners.

Below is a number of controversies raised by local bloggers and netizens:

1. the criminalization of all forms of electronic transmission of copyright work, including streaming, BT and any other future sharing and distributing technology, will affect technology innovation and consumer rights.

2. the criminalization of unauthorised communication of copyright works, including the incorporating the work of others into their own pieces in cases like political satire, Kuso, re-creation and cultural jamming will affect freedom of expression and result in highly selective prosecution.

3. the interpretation of “harm” from monetary loss to “prejudice and reputation” that affect the copyright owners is highly arbitrary.

4. the lack of “fair use” to protect creator of derivative works in the bill.

Copyright Amendment 2011 Legislative Council Brief

Full Text of Copyright Amendment Bill 2011

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