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Amendments to the Copyright Ordinance

In early 1999, the HKSAR Government consulted the public on additional legal tools to combat intellectual property rights infringements. One of the proposals that gained public support was to combat corporate copyright piracy activities by criminalizing the use of infringing products, for example, pirated computer software, in business. According to an unofficial estimate, about 50% of all computer software used in business is pirated. According to the Government, such an excessive degree of violation of intellectual property rights has significantly affected the legitimate interests of copyright owners, discouraged innovation and investments, and tarnished the international image of Hong Kong.

The Copyright Ordinance was amended to implement the proposal. The amendments took effect from 1 April 2001.

To address the public concern that the amendments had hampered the dissemination of information in enterprises as well as teaching activities in schools, the Legislative Council passed the Copyright (Suspension of Amendments) Ordinance 2001 in June 2001.

As a result, the criminal provisions in the recently amended Copyright Ordinance will continue to apply, with a slightly narrowed scope, to computer software, movies, television dramas and music recordings. For copyright works other than these four categories, the criminal provisions will revert to the position before the amendments took effect.