Sunday, November 29, 2015   

Spoofs set for break from copyright clamp

Hilary Wong

Thursday, June 12, 2014


The government has proposed taking further steps to exempt parodies from copyright infringement.

In addition to criminal exemption, the government is also proposing to exempt parodies from civil liabilities, according to the government's latest submission to the Legislative Council.

The government also proposes setting up a safety zone to help internet service providers handle copyright infringement accusations.

According to a government source, the scope of copyright exception has been expanded under the existing law to balance copyright protection, uses of copyright works and to protect the freedom of expression.

An example of parody that will be exempted is a poster for the film 3 Idiots where the heads of the three leads were replaced by National People's Congress deputy Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

The poster was released during the chief executive election in 2012. Song lyrics adapted to comment on social issues can be exempted as well.

However, people who perform singers' songs in public areas and upload self performances on the internet for public sharing may infringe the law if they do not get the copyright from the original composers. But the source said so far no such cases have been brought to court.

The source said the copyright amendment ordinance also introduces corresponding criminal sanctions against unauthorized communication of copyright works to the public.

To allay concerns about the possible impact on the free flow of information across the internet and to provide greater legal certainty, the legislation will clarify the criminal liability of causing prejudice to the copyright owner and provide that the court will examine all the circumstances of a case and in particular the economic prejudice, regarding whether the copy becomes a substitution for the work.

It will also establish a statutory "safe harbor" for online service providers so that their liabilities for copyright infringement occurring on their service platforms could be limited, provided that the service providers meet prescribed conditions, including the taking of reasonable steps to limit or stop copyright infringement when notified.

The proposal aims at facilitating the providers' handling of alleged infringements balancing the interests between copyright owners and users.

The government source said the amendment and the update of the copyright regime is intended to catch up with international standards because of inadequate copyright protection in the online digital environment.

The source said details of the bill will be published in the Government Gazette tomorrow.

The first reading and start of the second reading will be held next Wednesday.

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