CASBAA, the Asia-Pacific pay-TV industry trade body, has urged the Hong Kong legislature to end a decade of delay and pass amendments to Hong Kong’s copyright law to give content creators and owners the right – at least in theory – to authorise electronic dissemination of their content.
At the same time, the Association – with membership including “globally-renowned broadcasters and news organisations with a strong vested interest in protecting creative and political expression” – said that worries that the amendments could represent “some sort of threat to free and open political expression” are off target. The comments came in a submission to the legislative committee considering the Amendments.
Chief Policy Officer John Medeiros noted that CASBAA – along with other copyright industry groups – has been pressing for improvements in Hong Kong’s law for years. In the decade since the government began this process, he said, “the world of TV has been transformed. Old copyright laws never foresaw the degree to which broadband connections can be used to bring huge quantities of pirated digital content to every home in Hong Kong from places where copyright protection is weak.”
As a result, CASBAA told the legislature, “the television industry in particular is already suffering huge harm from online piracy unrestrained by existing inadequate laws.” Evidence is not hard to come by, according to CASBAA, which observed that the elevated levels and huge growth trend in online piracy were “plain to see for anyone with the will to have open eyes”.
Medeiros noted that – even while it supports rapid passage of the legislation – the TV industry remains critical of the large weaknesses of the Amendment Bill. “Establishment of a right to authorise communication of copyrighted works will not solve the piracy problem,” he said, and further steps are urgently needed. “Hong Kong is now way behind the curve,” Medeiros added. The Amendment Bill will implement for the first time copyright treaties signed almost 20 years ago, and “it is an absolutely necessary first step,” he asserted. In addition, CASBAA is urging the government to begin considering further steps immediately to restore balance and provide a new breath of life to Hong Kong’s creative industries.