More lawmakers have said they will vote down the the controversial Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014. Some are set to start a filibuster at the bill’s second reading at the legislature on Wednesday. However, the majority of the some 900 amendments to the bill proposed by a lawmaker have been rejected.

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said on a Commercial Radio programme on Monday that he saw clear public support for the three amendments proposed by the pan-democrats. These include the addition of a “contract override” clause, “user generated content” protection and “fair use” terms to protect derivative works by netizens.

Mok will cast an opposition vote if the amendments are rejected. He originally supported the bill, saying that the new bill protects the rights of netizens better than the current copyright law.

From left: Charles Mok, James Tien, Raymond Wong.
From left: Charles Mok, James Tien, Raymond Wong. File

Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun told Ming Pao that his party also supports the three amendments proposed by the pan-democrats and that he will vote down the bill if they are rejected.

He said he used his Facebook account often and that the young party member managing his account, and other young members, were worried about the bill, hence he would oppose the bill.

However, he added that the four other lawmakers of his party in the functional constituencies will support the bill since, although the party agrees that intellectual property rights should be protected by law, they rarely use social media or create derivative works from copyrighted materials. Thus, the industries they represent will not be affected.

An comic artist saying the new copyright bill would be a nuclear missile hitting netizens.
An comic artist saying the new copyright bill would be a nuclear missile hitting netizens. Photo: Facebook/Lthree.

A “contract override” term would override the contractual terms imposed by the copyright owners to prohibit parody. Whilst a “fair use” term is being proposed in order to protect derivative works such as those published by performers who cover songs, artists who self-publish comic remixes, internet users who live-stream game playing and song lyric rewrites.

Massive cut in amendments

Meanwhile, Lawmakers Raymond Wong Yuk-man, Ray Chan Chi-chuen, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Gary Fan Kwok-wai decided to stall the legislation process by filibustering.

Wong proposed 903 amendments, but Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing only approved 42.

Tsang said that only 80 amendments proposed by Wong would make substantial modifications to the bill, the 823 other proposals were merely changing the bill’s grammar and style. None of them changed the meaning of its sections.

He added that he had asked for comments from the government, and related lawmakers, as well as checking with the LegCo’s Rules of Procedure before making the decision.

“I think this is seriously hindering the LegCo’s responsibility to consider the bill,” Tsang said, calling the 823 amendments “frivolous.”

In response, Raymond Wong said that “it is absolutely a political decision.”

An illustrator saying the new copyright bill will ban different forms of derivative works.
An illustrator saying the new copyright bill will ban different forms of derivative works. Photo: Facebook/damnkidyk.

Ways to start filibuster

Tsang approved ten out of 12 amendments proposed by the pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kam-lam – namely, the inclusion of a “contract override” and “fair use” terms – the amendments supported by the pro-democracy camp lawmakers.

Chan, the chairman of the Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, had to propose the amendments on behalf of the committee, as some members of the pro-Beijing camp did not attend one of its meetings. The pan-democrats managed to get a temporary majority and voted for Chan to propose the amendments on their behalf.

Chan, however, can vote down the amendments he proposed.

Proposing amendments is not the only way to start a filibuster. In a Facebook post, lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung explained that there are three more ways, including asking questions and making speeches, proposing the adjournment of debate and requesting a count of the quorum.

However, Leung also mentioned that the LegCo president can limit the time of speeches and that it would only be a matter of time if the government wanted the bill to pass.

Internet freedom advocacy groups Keyboard Frontline has called for a rally outside LegCo on Wednesday night against the bill.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.