SCMP Tuesday, April 10, 2001

James Tien opposes 'impractical' ban on photocopying newspapers


The Liberal Party chairman last night threatened to move a private member's bill to amend the controversial copyright law unless the Government lifted its ban on unauthorised photocopying of newspapers.
James Tien Pei-chun, representing the General Chamber of Commerce in the legislature, urged the administration to review the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill promptly in an attempt either to repeal or amend the relevant provision.
He is concerned that the new law, which came into effect on April 1, has criminalised unauthorised photocopying of newspapers, which Mr Tien said was "downright impractical and difficult to enforce".
He appealed to the Government to review and amend the law and resubmit it to the legislature. He also called on the administration to suspend implementation of the law.
Mr Tien said the law had seriously disrupted and hampered the normal flow of information and commercial operations in government departments, schools, community organisations and businesses.
He did not rule out moving a private member's bill to amend the law if the Government failed to make a positive response to his demand.
He said he had received numerous complaints from individuals and businesses about the ban. It is understood many major companies have suspended their newspaper clipping services since the new law took effect.
Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, last night backed Mr Tien's proposal. But he said Mr Tien should have backed previous attempts by the democrats to amend the Basic Law as well.
A Commerce and Industry Bureau spokeswoman said the Government would listen to all views and did not rule out any possibilities. The law, gazetted in January last year, was enacted by the legislature last June after being scrutinised by a Bills Committee formed in February last year.
Cyd Ho Sau-lan of The Frontier, who did not sit on the Bills Committee scrutinising the controversial law which aims to prevent people shooting pirate videos in cinemas, said she felt all legislators should apologise to the public for failing to spot the provision on unauthorised photocopying of newspapers.