Overdue copyright reform should go further: lawyer

An intellectual property lawyer on Thursday welcomed moves to reform the SAR’s copyright laws, but says they need to take into account technological changes if Hong Kong is to develop as an intellectual property hub.

The government announced on Wednesday that it was reviving plans for a revamp of the copyright regime after it was scrapped in 2016 amid filibustering in the legislature and opposition from concern groups, who claimed exemptions for parody and commentary on current affairs weren’t sufficient to protect free speech.

The reform has five main elements, including giving copyright owners communication rights across all forms of electronic media, meaning they can authorise or prohibit the transmission of their work on any plaform.

Speaking on RTHK’s Hong Kong Today programme, Kenny Wong, who has practised intellectual property law for 30 years and co-authored the book “Intellectual Property Law & Practice in Hong Kong” said the reforms were urgently needed.

“We are very far behind so far as international developments are concerned on copyright, particularly with regard to communication rights, so I think there is indeed urgency that we need to significantly improve our copyright legislation within the shortest time possible,” he told RTHK’s Janice Wong.

“So I do support what has been put forward, and obviously others issues can be consulted on and discussed later on.”

The government said on Wednesday 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 legislation is subject to a three-month public consultation, including on the question of whether the law should specifically address the use of illicit streaming devices such as television boxes and mobile apps.