Urgent need to update copyright law: Edward Yau

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said there’s an urgent need to amend “outdated” copyright laws to catch up with the technology.

The government’s last attempt to update copyright laws failed to get through Legco in 2016 due to filibustering by some lawmakers.

At the time, internet users had expressed concerns that the law could stifle freedom of expression.

But during a press conference on Thursday, Yau said it’s high time to bring in the amendments again, now that the electoral system has been overhauled and the relationship between the executive and legislature has improved.

He said when officials launch the consultation next month, it will be based on the previous proposal, which he said already offered exemptions to parody.

“The copyright bill, when it was failed last time because of the filibustering at Legco, had also aroused some concerns and discussions about freedoms, rights and whatever,” Yau said.

“I think the easiest starting point will be to bring the bill back to Legco and prior to that have a public consultation [so that] we can all tease out all these discussions once again. Of course the balance would be respecting freedom on one hand and protecting copyright on the other.”

Meanwhile, Yau also denied his bureau has “lost out” in the proposed government restructuring plan, as several areas he oversees may move to other bureaus in the future.

Under the plan floated by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her policy address, tourism, arts, as well as industries will no longer fall under his bureau’s remit if lawmakers approve the proposal.

“We are not talking about one bureau’s gains or the other’s loss. We are talking about how to refine the overall policy making and management administration structure that could gear up for the challenges and opportunities given to us,” Yau said.