PRPA Concerns New Copyright Law

PRPA Presented Stance at LegCo Panel Meeting PRPA made a presentation of its stances on the Copyright issue at the LegCo Panel on Commerce and Industry on January 10, 2002. The Government has received a total of 230 submissions during the consultation period and will provide the LegCo with the analysis in February. According to the Government, they are aware of and will act on the concern over the effects of the law over free flow of information and the education sector. The initial view of the Government is that small quantity copying of copyright materials for dissemination and education should be exempted from criminal liability. PRPA will closely monitor its development of the whole issue. Submission on the Consultation of Review of Certain Provisions of Copyright Ordinance Submitted by: Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals’ Association December 2001 Introduction 1. The public relations profession is very concerned about the impacts of the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2000 (the “Amending Ordinance”) currently in suspension. The Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals’ Association (the “Association”) is a professional body that promotes the public relations profession’s development and represents the interests of the industry. Since the Amending Ordinance was put into effect earlier this year, the Association has conducted an opinion survey and organized discussion sessions to study the impacts and views of the profession. As a result, a study report was written and published. (Published on Association’s newsletter “2-way”, October 2001 Issue 17) Focus 2. Based on the nature of the profession and views received, this submission will focus on the act of photocopying newspaper articles. It will concentrate on the chapter (Chapter 1) about criminal provisions related to the so called “end-user piracy” issue in the consultation paper on Review of Certain Provisions of Copyright Ordinance (the “Consultancy Paper”). Representation 3. The Association aims at representing public relations professionals in consultancies and in organizations, including both business and non-profit-making operations. Most of these consultancies and organizations provide a wide range of services in the community. Photocopying newspaper articles are often needed incidental to their operations. 4. Many organizations may require monitoring and circulating newspaper articles as one of the means to help the senior management to learn about the media coverage of their organizations. Much of the coverage stems from interviews and events arranged and organized by the organizations themselves. Also, some public relations consultancies may require photocopying newspaper articles occasionally as part of their professional service for their clients. As the Association understands, however, these consultancies and organizations do purchase newspapers and true copies will be used whenever possible. Stances 5. In principle, the Association fully supports the spirit of intellectual property rights. At the same time there should also be a fair balance in avoiding imposition of unnecessary restraints on the free flow of information which would bring disproportionate hassles to the community. 6. In general, the Association opposes imposing criminal liability on photocopying news articles for non-commercial use. It believes that imposing criminal liability is grossly unwarranted for the nature of the issue and in terms of public interests. Or else this will simply equate an organization’s bona fide acts to such rampant piracy as piracies on software and entertainment products. This development would be most unfortunate and unnecessary if it turns out to be the case. 7. The Association considers that photocopying of newspaper articles in organizations for internal reference and fair use should be allowed and does not carry any criminal liability. 8. As a result, with reference to the specific issues raised by the Consultation Paper, the Association supports that: (a) Criminal sanction should NOT apply to the possession of an infringing copy of a copyright work in ‘business’ activities of a non-profit-making nature (Consultancy Paper paragraph 1.11(a)). (b) Employees in possession of an infringing copy supplied by the employer for use in business should NOT be criminally liable; (Consultancy Paper paragraph 1.11(b)). (c) End-user criminal liability should apply only to copyright works afflicted by rampant piracy (Consultancy Paper paragraph 1.11(c)). We do not believe that photocopying newspaper articles should fall within this category. (d) Certain acts of the end-user which infringe copyright but which do not give the end-user any commercial advantage or private financial gain, should be exempt from criminal liability (Consultancy Paper paragraph 1.11(d)). We consider that these certain acts should include photocopying newspaper articles for the organizations’ internal reference, no matter the organization is a business or non-profit-making operations. (e) The phrase “in connection with” in the expression” for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business” used in the Copyright Ordinance as amended by the Amending Ordinance should be removed. (Consultancy Paper paragraph 1.11(e)).

More Information

Press Release: New Copyright Law Causes Serious Confusion “New Copyright Law – A Hindrance to Free Flow of Information?” / “FAQ – Amendments to the Copyright Ordinance” / “Copyright/Intellectual Property in Overseas Countries”

Relevant Information

PRPA Survey on News Clipping Copying Issue – Survey Report 2001