International Federation of the Phonographic Industry - Hong Kong Group
Submission to the Panel on Trade and Industry, Legislative Council HKSAR,
for the Panel Meeting on 7 June 1999,
Regarding the report on public consultation on "Combating Intellectual Property Rights Infringement in the HKSAR"
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry - Hong Kong Group (IFPI) appreciates this opportunity to contribute to the discussion to be held on 7 June 1999 in the Trade and Industry Panel's meeting. As IFPI has already responded to the consultation paper on further legal tools to combat copyright piracy, we would like to emphasize two points in our presentation to the Panel.
Firstly, on behalf of our members, we express our gratitude to the HKSAR Government and the Legislative Council for their efforts in combating copyright piracy in Hong Kong. We appreciate the efforts of the Hong Kong Customs in raiding pirate outlets, production premises and their successful operations against smugglers of infringing products.
However, despite increasing Customs enforcement efforts and legal measures introduced last year, we are not aware of any significant improvement. Indeed, retail piracy remains rampant and continues to spread. As much as we appreciate the introduction of new legal measures, IFPI maintains that the current problem of copyright piracy must be met with a change in the current enforcement methods.
Pirate outlets are taking advantages of the current economic situation as landlords are willing to let out their premises by short-term leases. This high mobility would largely reduce the effective-ness of Customs' regular raids.
We are aware a special taskforce with additional manpower has been added to the Customs' anti-piracy structure. IFPI welcomes this move but remains concerned whether this provides the ultimate solution to tackle retail
piracy in Hong Kong. For now, we maintain that the most effective way to root out retail piracy is to assign Police Officers the active role of anti-piracy enforcement.
While the consultation paper rightly emphasis the urgency of combating copyright piracy by introducing new legal tools, Internet piracy - or copyright infringing activities in the online environment - is also spreading. Internet piracy, mainly the replication and distribution, for profits or otherwise, in the Internet of sound recordings, is currently being ignored by the Government.
IFPI estimates that at any one time there are in excess of 300,000 infringing sound recordings in the so-called MP3 format are being copied and distributed without authorization. As the Copyright Ordinance already contains provisions that would allow the Customs to take action against Internet pirates, we urge the Government to immediately begin programs to monitor criminal activities of local Internet pirates and take actions against them.
IFPI once again thank you the Panel for giving us the opportunity to present our views in the forthcoming meeting. We are looking forward to any future opportunities to cooperate with the Panel to ensure that the local music industry would continue to thrive and enrich Hong Kong's cultural life.