Several civil groups paid a visit to pro-Beijing party offices to assign them “holiday homework” and test the lawmakers’ knowledge of the controversial copyright bill.
Dubbed the “Internet Article 23” by campaigners – a reference to Hong Kong’s ill-fated security law – The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 has faced major opposition from local netizens who fear it may curb internet freedom. Some are concerned the new amendments could make it an offence to live stream game-playing and to screen-capture television programmes or movies.
Representatives from Keyboard Frontline, Scholarism, Youngspiration and 80s Momentum – a group providing training for young politicians – have provided a bundle of materials and two test papers on the bill to the parties, in the hope they will read and complete them before January 6, when the bill’s second reading is due to resume at the Legislative Council.
“We see many lawmakers do not understand the basics of the copyright bill,” Glacier Kwong Chung-ching of Keyboard Frontline said. “We hope they use the week to read the bill carefully, and do not just vote without knowing what is happening.”
The test papers were called “Internet Article 23 TSA test papers,” named after the controversial TSA tests for primary school students.
They said the test papers have 20 questions about wide-ranging copyright exemptions to the unlicensed use of copyrighted works for purposes such “quotation” and “news reporting,” the speeches and amendments by lawmakers Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Ray Chan Chi-chuen at LegCo, and examples of “fair use” in foreign countries.
The groups could only talk to Liberal Party chairman Felix Chung Kwok-pan face to face, as many lawmakers were not in Hong Kong.
Chung told them he would try to complete the papers before the LegCo meeting resumes. He added that he is “open to discussion” about the bill, and is happy to meet with the groups again.
They gave the materials and test papers to staff of the other parties’ offices, including New People’s Party, The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.
The bill provided six exempted proposes of use for copyrighted works: namely “parody,” “satire,” “pastiche,” “caricature,” “quotation,” or “reporting or commenting on current events.”
But netizens were still worried that the exemptions were not enough to protect non-profit derivative works, and asked for a “fair use” provision to be included in the bill to provide open-ended exemptions.