Lack of quorum halts controversial internet Article 23
by Julianna Wu
Debate arose among online freedom of speech after the controversial Copyright Amendment Bill meeting was adjourned in Legislative Council yesterday.
After five times' quorum called by pan-democrats, only 29 legislators, below the requisite 35, showed up, president of Legislative Council Jasper Tsang Yok-sing had no choice but cancelled the meeting.
Before the meeting, pan-democrats said they would take legal moves in Legislative Council to delay the bill's second reading, which was restarted after the latest amendment on 2014.
In the latest version of Copyright Amendment Bill, the government has revised its proposal and allows exemptions under the "fair use" criteria.
According to Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, the new added six exemptions are "parodies, satires, caricatures, pastiches, and current affairs commentaries."
But still, online secondary creations such as new lyrics to existing tunes, live broadcast game playing, comic cosplay, and others, could face criminal liability if the bill is passed.
Plenty of online users commented on the Government Information Services Department's official Facebook page that the division of exemptions are unclear and they are afraid the bill would become a political tool striking freedom of speech.
Keyboard Frontline, a voluntary internet freedom defending organization founded in 2011, said the exemption should include but not limit to these six ones.
They requested the government to broader the criteria by applying the word "such as" to the examples.
This criteria of "open exemption" is used by the US in her copyright bill, according to spokeswoman of Keyboard Frontline Glacier Kwong Chung-ching.
Government said some relevant organizations, such as the record companies and songwriters, have signed deal with Youtube, a video-sharing website, to ensure the platform does not infringe the copyright if people upload their work and share there.
But online users, such as uploaders and performers, could receive the same exemption if they shared their secondary creations on Youtube.
"Hong Kong's copyright law is falling behind other developed places. It's time for the law to keep abreast of the modern development so the local entertainment and creative industries will not be affected," said the chief executive of General Chamber of Commerce Shirley Yuen.
Three out of five internet users in the city agree holders of copyrighted works need to be compensated if their works are uploaded and shared online, a survey conducted by YouGov found in September.
Keyboard Frontline was about to organize a protest outside Legislative Council on Wednesday night.
At around 8pm, several ten protesters in black showed up, followed by a butane gas canister blast inside a rubbish bin at the Legco demonstration zone.
Keyboard Frontline together with other "umbrella organizations" met with the Liberty Party to ask them to support the Pan-democrats on the bill on Wednesday.
Some of the city's famous artists and lyrics writers, including Lin Xi and Wyman Wong Wai-man, showed their support to internet freedom by saying "welcome to change my lyrics" through social media.
Hong Kong's copyright amendment for online material, which is referred as "Article 23 of the cyber world," received large opposition from internet users since it was first brought up in 2006.
(Edited by Harry Ng.)
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