SCMP Thursday, November 8, 2001


Schools can still make free copies

SHIRLEY LAU

Schools were given approval to continue photocopying newspaper articles free of charge yesterday as a system was announced to enable copyright royalties to be collected by a press union.
The scheme was introduced by the Copyright Licensing Association - a body formed by the Newspaper Society and involving 12 newspapers, including the South China Morning Post - and will take effect on November 15.
The body will issue annual licences for parties to make copies of newspapers for internal reference or instruction. Exemptions will be granted to charitable organisations, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools.
Eric Lai Chun-fai, of the association, said the licence fee was determined by the amount of copies, the number of users and the price demanded by newspapers.
"Companies which make copies of less than 100 articles a month from the 12 participating newspapers will be charged a fixed fee of $500 a year," he said. "But for a company in which 10 employees photocopy more than 100 articles from the papers, the annual fee is [around] $20,000."
The society's Kevin Lau Chun-to said the pricing system was reasonable when compared to other countries.
He said the body might take civil action against those who seriously infringed copyright.
"There is always a grey area when it comes to copyright and we can't monitor all organisations in detail. But we reserve [the right to take] civil action against serious breach of copyright," he said.
Mr Lau said higher education institutions had no exemption as they operated differently from primary and secondary schools.
The scheme comes seven months after the amended Copyright Law came into effect to criminalise unauthorised copying of materials. Opposition from the public against the legislation led to a partial suspension of the law in June. The suspension was backed by the Newspaper Society, which promised to come up with a system to collect royalties.
Formally released last week, the consultation paper on the Amended Copyright Ordinance suggested decriminalising the photocopying of books and newspaper articles by end users and proposed a legal cap on the number of copies educators can make.