HKSAR copyright law to hamper PR

HONG KONG: The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative

Region (HKSAR) has imposed a law prohibiting the copying of newspaper

articles for media monitoring without a license. The change, which took

effect April 1, is expected to cost the PR industry dearly.

Under an amendment to the Intellectual Property Ordinance, the practice

of photocopying and clipping articles from newspapers is outlawed unless

a license is obtained from the copyright owner.

The amendment affects both agencies monitoring the media for client

coverage and internal departments monitoring it for their own use.

Stephen Selby, the government of HKSAR's director of intellectual

property, said all PR agencies and departments are now required 'to get

themselves in order.' He continued, 'Providing copies of newspapers,

even before April 1, was an infringement.'

Several major newspapers are said to be discussing forming a licensing

body to handle the issue. 'I hope to see the new licensing scheme put

into action. In the meantime, a copyright from the individual newspaper

is needed,' said Selby.

Linda Tsui, president of the Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals'

Association, said the executive committee is preparing a response to the

legislation. 'The main problem will be cost. Our executive committee is

exchanging views on this,' she said.

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