HK proposes new anti-piracy law

Legislation stops short of 'three strikes' penalties

HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong government has proposed a package of new legislation to strengthen copyright protection in the digital environment, but it stopped short of a "three strikes" policy adopted by countries including France and South Korea.

Proposals include criminal sanctions against those who initiate unauthorized communication of copyright works; prescribing in law additional factors to assist courts in considering the award of additional damages, given that it is difficult to prove actual financial loss; and introduction of a media-shifting exception, so a consumer can use non-infringing music copies on multiple personal devices.

Intended to get Internet service providers to co-operate in the fight against online piracy the package also adds clarification of the liabilities of ISPs and definitions of "caching."

"The Government has strived to balance competing interests, including the need to provide an environment conducive to Hong Kong's development as an Internet service hub, as well as the protection of personal data privacy and free flow of information," said Yvonne Choi, Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism).

Choi made it clear that the government did not support introducing an alternative infringer identity disclosure mechanism that would not be subject to scrutiny by courts. Nor does the government support introducing new criminal liability specific to downloading or peer-to-peer file-sharing and feels it unnecessary to introduce statutory damages specific for copyright infringement. 

Legislation is likely to be presented in the second half of next year.