Copyright update

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Six months have passed since Linkage spoke to Mr Patrick Kwong, Director of the University Publications Office and Convener of the HUCOM Task Force on Reprographic Rights Licensing, about the implications for CityU of the enactment of the Intellectual Property Ordinance (Miscellaneous Amendments) 2000, on 1 April 2001 (see Linkage No. 201). Recently, the Government issued the Review of certain Provisions of Copyright Ordinance consultation document, and the Newspaper Society has authorized the Copyright Licensing Association to charge an annual license fee for making newspaper photocopies. But the issue of photocopying at tertiary institutions remains unresolved. Linkage asked Mr Kwong to bring us up to date.

Q. Tell us again, how does the Amendment Ordinance affect CityU?

A.Teachers and researchers are particularly vulnerable to copyright infringement, for instance, if they use of photocopies of articles for teaching or research, compile course packs of chapters of several books, download text or graphics from the web to distribute to students, or simply distribute photocopies of newspaper articles to students.

Q. Shouldn't we get special consideration as an educational institution?

A. Unfortunately, no-the law interprets the word "business" in the Ordinance to include education.

Q. What is the latest development?

A.  In July, in response to public demand, the government suspended the part of the Ordinance that relates to printed media and broadcast programmes. A new copyright ordinance will be enacted in July 2002 and the government is seeking submissions from all sectors of the community. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2001.

Q. Is there any way to get around the photocopying problem at CityU?

A.  We can apply for licenses from the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society (HKRRLS), which represents copyright owners worldwide. In June 2000, CityU joined forces with the eight other UGC institutions to form a Task Force to negotiate with HKRRLS. I represent CityU on the Task Force and am its Convener. We're also negotiating with the Newspaper Society of Hong Kong.

Q. How expensive are the licenses and will they solve the problem once and for all?

A.  As licensing reprographic rights is new to Hong Kong, I can't give you any figures yet. In the UK, the annual fee for each student was about HK$40 in 2000. As far as problems go, we have to work out a balance between the Fair Dealing Clause in the Ordinance, where a user can reproduce a reasonable extent of a copyright work for research, private study and criticism, and purchasing licenses. The Task Force is now drafting a preliminary position paper on this. The paper will be sent to all staff for comment in December, then will be submitted to the Government.

The full version of this interview, including details of licensing practice in other countries and a comparison of "fair dealing" in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, is reproduced on www.cityu.edu.hk/cityutoday under "copyright". 

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