Copyright owners and internet users failed to reach a consensus on the amendment to the Copyright Bill during a negotiating meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting ended without success after a representative from a derivative works concern group left the negotiating table and denounced the meeting as “a waste of time”. Glacier Kwong Chung-ching, spokesperson of Keyboard Frontline, urged the government to initiate “new proposals or other alternatives that they can think of” to satisfy the needs of different parties.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, who represented the government in the negotiations, said the different parties retained their firm stances on the amendment. Legislator Chan Kam-lam, who chairs the Bills Committee in the legislature, said that it was unlikely that a new meeting would be called in the near future.
The “four sides meeting” was attended by government representatives, legislators, copyright owners’ groups and representatives of derivative works concern groups.
The Copyright (Amendment) Bill was first proposed by the government in 2013. Dubbed “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.
Under the bill, if the adaptation of videos, songs or pictures falls within the scope of “parody”, “satire”, “pastiche”, “caricature”, “quotation” or “reporting or commenting on current events”, it is covered by copyright exceptions. If the work is not covered by any copyright exception and amounts to “prejudicial distribution or communication” and “a substitution for the original work”, it may attract criminal liability.
Lam Yuk-wah, spokesperson for the Hong Kong Copyright Alliance, said that the group would not be able to accept further concessions previously offered by pan-democratic legislators. He added that the creation of derivative works should not come without limitations.
In a statement, the Hong Kong Bar Association, a professional body for barristers in Hong Kong, said that it was “in the interests of Hong Kong’s community as a whole to pass the Bill in the present form” in order to match global standards for the protection of copyright.
Speaking after the negotiating meeting on Wednesday, Gregory So Kam-leung also cited this statement and called on legislators to stop filibustering and to pass the Bill.