The Chief Executive Office has paid HK$600 in royalties to copyright owners for a karaoke video uploaded to Leung Chun-ying’s Facebook page.

In the video posted last month, Leung is seen singing Beyond’s hit song “Like You” alongside band member Wong Ka-keung at an anniversary dinner hosted by the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA).

After netizens raised questions as to whether Leung had paid royalties to the copyright holders, the Chief Executive Office applied for a licence from the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH), and paid a “small sum.”

At a Legislative Council session on Wednesday, lawmaker Ray Chan Chi-chuen asked the government how much the CE office paid, and did it mean the government had privileges allowing it to apply for clearance after a video was uploaded.

In response, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said that the office obtained a licence for the melody and lyrics of the song from CASH for HK$600 for three months from the date of the event, thus there is no question of legal liability for copyright infringement.

“The period of validity of licences is usually decided by both parties signing the contract, it can be backdated, and it can be used for actions that happen in the future, there is no specific limitation in the law, thus obtaining the licence afterwards does not mean [the government has] privileges,” said So.

However, the CE office could not identify the copyright owner of the musical recording of the background music. So said that the CE office would be pleased to pay the fee to obtain the necessary licence should the copyright owner be identified.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. File

LegCo filibuster continues

Under the controversial new copyright bill currently being debated at the legislature, by uploading a video without obtaining a licence beforehand, the Chief Executive may have committed a criminal offence. It has thus sparked public concern over the bill, should it pass.

Deliberations began in December last year. Dubbed the “Internet Article 23” by campaigners—a reference to Hong Kong’s ill-fated security law—the bill has faced major opposition from local netizens who fear it may curb internet freedoms. They say it may not have provided enough protection for internet users when they use copyrighted materials for non-profit and personal use.

Pan-democratic lawmakers have been waging a filibuster, including during the meeting on Wednesday, in order to delay the bill from being moved to a vote. Since the bill only needs a simple majority in the LegCo to pass, if it is moved to vote, it would likely pass with the support of the majority of pro-Beijing camp lawmakers.

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.