A twice-rejected controversial amendment to the Copyright Ordinance will be handed to Hong Kong’s legislature next month, the government announced on Friday.

The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2022 will be handed to the Legislative Council (LegCo) on June 8 for first and second reading.

Legislative Council Legco
Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

The bill would include a “technology-neutral exclusive communication right,” and introduce “criminal sanctions against infringements relating to the new communication right,” the government said in a statement on Friday.

The proposed legislation also included exemptions for purposes of “parody, satire, caricature and pastiche,” as well as “criticism, review, quotation, and reporting and commenting on current events.”

However, whether the use actually fits the exempted purposes would have to be determined by the court.

‘Rational interaction’

The government’s two previous attempts to pass amendments to the current copyright legislation in 2011 and 2014 failed, with the bill dubbed “internet Article 23” by opponents, a reference to the also-shelved security law baked into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

copyright amendment bill
Photo: Pixabay.

In a statement published on Friday, a spokesperson for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said that the government hoped for an “early passage” of the bill.

“After improving the electoral system, enabling the executive and the legislature to resume rational interaction, we consider that it is high time to revive the long overdue copyright legislative amendment exercise. We believe that LegCo will surely complete scrutinising the Bill in a serious, detailed and efficient manner for its early passage,” the spokesperson said.

Hong Kong’s electoral system saw a massive overhaul last year after Beijing passed legislation to ensure that only “patriots” governed Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates.

Following the overhaul, only one self-proclaimed non-establishment candidate was elected to the 90-seat legislature.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy figures, following the implementation of the Beijing-imposed national security law, have faced prosecution, left the city, or bowed out of the political scene.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.