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Duplicating Teacher's Speech is Not an Offence

@eLaw Focus. Author: Thomas Tse. Partner, Yip, Tse & Tang

elaw120x120A school-cert candidate was found having duplicated the sound recording of the teaching content of a tutor. Customs officers in Hong Kong arrested him for investigation and no charge had yet laid. Declining cost and increasing convenience of the recording media make content duplication unprecentedly common among youngsters. MP3 and MPEG are the most popular formats for digital sound recording and video.

The arrested school-cert candidate would not have been so arrested if he had not placed the duplicated contents for sale on an auction site. Duplicating copyright works such as sound recording for self-use is not an offence. Distributing it or placing it for sale is however liable to criminal prosecution.

Speech not recorded on a media has no copyright. This is because copyright protection requires 'fixation'. Students are free to record but as a matter of coutesy should seek the teacher's permission. Students should however be careful. Although the speech itself has no copyright, the speech might contain contents which are copyrighted such as a lyric or an article. In any event, never put anything on sale or make further duplicates. Students should not place anything materials on the Internet for people to download or listen. This can cause trouble.

About @eLaw Focus:

@eLaw Focus is a news column on current electronic laws issues. It is provided by lawyers of Yip, Tse & Tang, a law firm specialising on eLaw practice. For further enquiry: info@elaw.com.hk