Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said that if the copyright amendment bill does not pass next week, it will be withdrawn.

At a press conference on Thursday, So said that the decision was made in the interest of society overall. He denied that it was an act of admitting defeat. So said that there were still many bills waiting to be discussed at Legislative Council, as he called pan-democratic lawmakers “selfish”, blaming them for wasting time and money.

Gregory So. Photo: NowTV screencap.

Quorum miscount

The copyright amendment bill meeting was adjourned on Wednesday following a miscount of the number of lawmakers in the chamber. So said: “I think it was very disappointing to me, especially as I know that there [were] actually sufficient people in the room. But, you know, that is the by-product of the filibustering. It is a really irresponsible act of the pan-democrats, not being in the room.”

LegCo staff had initially believed that there were insufficient lawmakers to meet the required quorum and the meeting was adjourned, but a subsequent check found that 35 lawmakers were present, meaning that the quorum had been met.

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

“This is a very reasonable bill… a very reasonable package, the consensus of which has already been reached. Don’t waste this opportunity, we still have next week to pass this bill,” So said. “Enough is enough… these acts of filibustering completely do not help Hong Kong at all.” So said that there were three days left to discuss the bill next week and urged the pan-democratic lawmakers to “turn back before it’s too late”.

Activist group hits back

Meanwhile, activist group Keyboard Frontline has hit back at the Bar Association’s statement on the copyright amendment bill, saying that it “does not help facilitate rational discussion”. The group pointed out factual mistakes in the statement, as well as what they say were “conceptual mistakes” and “incorrect understanding of overseas jurisdictions”.

Last Thursday, the Hong Kong Bar Association, a professional body for barristers in Hong Kong, published a statement saying 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.

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 freedoms. They say it may not have provided enough protection for internet users when they use copyrighted materials for non-profit and personal use.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.