About Copyright Law

Films and cable programmes, whether shown on pay TV, played from DVDs or viewed from the internet, are intended for personal, private use only.  If you wish to show the work in public, you must hae a separate license that specifically authorizes the public exhibition of that work.

These rules are detailed in Hong Kong's Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528).

  • According to the Copyright Ordinance, only the copyright owner holds the exclusive right, among others, “to perform, show or play the work in public” (§ 22) and this is a restricted act (§ 27)
  • The rental or purchase of a film or cable progamme does not carry with it the right to perform the film publicly. (§ 25)
  • Films and cable programmes may be shown without a license at an educational establishment for the purposed of “giving or receiving instruction.” (§ 43(2)).  However, the Intellectual Property Department has explicitly cautioned that such establishments require appropriate licenses for showings undertaken by those establishments for fundraising events, functions to which the public can be admitted, or for entertainment purposes.
  • Virtually all other public performances of films and cable programmes are infringed unless they have been authorized by licence. Even performances in ‘semipublic’ places such as clubs, lodges, factories, hospitals, and churches are ‘public performances’ subject to compliance with the Copyright Ordinance.

Non-compliance with the Copyright Ordinance is considered infringement and carries significant penalties for both the exhibitor and anyone that contributes to the infringing conduct. (§§ 27, 33, 34, and 107)