The copyright amendment bill has failed to pass before the government-imposed deadline of Friday. The government plans to reshuffle the items on the agenda, meaning that the bill will not be discussed again in this legislature’s term.

“We have decided to change the order of the bills to be discussed and move the copyright bill to the end of the agenda,” said the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung at a press conference.

copyright bill gregory so kam-leung legco
Gregory So Kam-leung. Photo: LegCo.

Last Thursday, So had said that if the copyright amendment bill does not pass this week, it will be withdrawn. However, on Friday So said that it was not possible to withdraw the bill because it had already completed its second reading. If the government could withdraw, it would, he added.

The copyright amendment bill has now effectively failed to pass. For the bill to be reintroduced into the Legislative Council, lawmakers will have to discuss and vote on all preceding issues before the end of the legislative term.

“Because of ‘filibustering,’ there are many proposals that are ‘clogging up’ the Legislative Council. That is to say, to move [the copyright bill] to the end of the agenda means there is no chance that it will be discussed in this legislature’s term,” So said.

Fierce opposition

Dubbed “Internet Article 23” by campaigners – a reference to Hong Kong’s ill-fated security law – the copyright amendment bill has faced major opposition from local netizens who fear it may curb internet freedoms.

Pan-democratic lawmakers, opposed to the amendments, have been waging a filibuster battle in order to delay the bill since December, repeatedly calling for a headcount and making long speeches to use up their allotted 15 minutes of speaking time.

So rejected revisions proposed by some lawmakers on Thursday, saying that the copyright owners would not accept them. Pan-democratic Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki and pro-establishment Liberal Party’s Felix Chung Kwok-pan questioned why So had discussed the compromises made.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.