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JMSC Suggestions Cited by Government in Report on Copyright Law Reform


Peter Yu presenting the options at the JMSC

A JMSC position paper urging increased legal protection for creators of parodies and similar literary or artistic expression was repeatedly cited by the Hong Kong government in its report on a recently concluded public consultation on copyright law reform.

The arguments made by the JMSC came during a consultation on how copyright law should apply in the Internet age to parodies, satires, caricatures and pastiches.  Copyright law is of vital importance to journalists and, increasingly, all Internet users.

In its paper, the JMSC urged the government to change current law in several ways that would expand civil and criminal exemptions for copyright violations by commercial and non-commercial creators of parodies and similar material.

If enacted into law, the JMSC paper argued, such exemptions would continue to recognize not only copyright owners’ need for protection, but also Internet users’ need to develop content and the government’s and online service providers’ needs to foster the Internet’s healthy development.

After reviewing close to 2,500 submissions, the government submitted its report on the consultation (Chinese) to the Legislative Council in mid-December. In its report, the government said it would continue to consult the public and key groups before drafting any new legislative proposals and, as recommended by the JMSC, would consider multiple options.


Peter Yu

The JMSC paper was authored by Professor Peter Yu, a leading authority in international intellectual and communications law.  The paper urged the government to recommend adoption of three key reforms:

  • Eliminate any criminal sanctions under copyright law for creators of parodies and similar content
  • Expand the exemption for civil sanctions under copyright law to all creators of parodies and similar content – not only to the journalists, book reviewers and researchers to whom the exemption now applies
  • Create a copyright exception for user-generated content that is “predominantly non-commercial,” an exception modelled after the recently amended Canadian copyright law

In recent years, as Internet use has grown, the JMSC has stayed abreast of copyright issues locally and around the world. Yu’s paper was the third it has submitted to the Hong Kong government in recent years. The JMSC was also instrumental in launching the Creative Commons, a non-traditional approach to copyright, in Hong Kong.

The JMSC on Aug. 30 hosted a presentation on parody and related issues by Yu and Charles Mok, a Legislative Councillor representing the Information Technology Information Functional Constituency.

Professor Yu also outlined the benefits of an exception in an op-ed in the South China Morning Post in early January.