The Government has proposed limits for copying and distributing copyright works and will introduce them in the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2009, to be published in the Gazette on Friday.
A copying and distribution offence was added to the Copyright Ordinance in June 2007. This made it illegal for someone to make copies of a printed copyright work for distribution, without the licence of the copyright owner, for commercial purposes on a regular or frequent basis.
The provision has yet to come into operation, pending the prescription of numeric limits.
After extensive consultations with stakeholders - including the Hong Kong Copyright Licensing Association, representing major newspaper and magazine publishers, and the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society, representing major book and journal publishers - the Government arrived at the proposed copy-number limits.
The limit for newspapers, magazines and periodicals, excluding academic journals, is a maximum of 500 A4-size pages embodying infringing copies of copyright works within any 14-day period.
The limit for books and academic journals is a maximum total retail value of $6,000 within any 180-day period, where the book or journal's retail value of a book (or an academic journal) or an article in an academic journal would be counted towards the total retail value when the user makes for distribution or distributes infringing copies of more than 25% of the number of pages of the book (or the academic journal), or makes for distribution or distributes infringing copies of a complete copy of the article.
The copying and distribution offence will not apply if the extent of copying or distribution is within these prescribed limits. People who distribute copies for commercial purposes without an appropriate licence may remain liable to civil claims from copyright owners.
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