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Function or Industrial Articles
Civil Liability

Criminal Liability

A person commits an offence if he, without the licence of the copyright owner:

1 makes for sale or hire;
2 imports into Hong Kong otherwise than for his private and domestic use;
3 exports from Hong Kong otherwise than for his private and domestic use;
4 possesses for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright;
5 for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business:(i) sells or lets for hire;(ii) offers or exposes for sale or hire;(iii) exhibits in public; or(iv) distributes; or(v) distributes (otherwise than for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business) to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, an infringing copy of a copyright work.

'Trade or business' does not have to involve dealing with infringing copies for profit or reward. Keeping or using an infringing copy of computer program in a company whose employees make use of it for doing business, for example typing of a business letter, a contract, a quotation or making a drawing is sufficient for the offence. Trade includes profession. Therefore, professionals like lawyers, doctors will be caught by the criminal sanction. Teachers and social workers are alike.

The above provisions apply to dealing of computer program. It is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 per copy and 4 years of imprisonment. In case of moulds, $500,000 and 8 years of infringement.

The criminal provisions have relieved the prosecution from the need of proving 'knowledge' on the part of the accused. If an accused wishes to defend the charge, he has to prove to the Court that he does not have the knowledge or has no reason to know that the article is an infringing copy.

The Customs & Excise Department is charged with the duty to receive complaints from the public in respect of copyright piracy, investigate the same.