COPYRIGHT, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THE INSULT TO THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-83
Number of pages31
Journal / PublicationHong Kong Law Journal
Volume51
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Abstract

After a great deal of back-and-forth debate, the National Anthem Ordinance was finally passed in Hong Kong on 12 June 2020. The newly introduced offences criminalise certain forms of insulting behaviour towards the national anthem. This article aims to discuss the intricate relationship among the protection of the national anthem from copyright infringement, the freedom of expression of the public and the newly introduced offences. Any alteration to the national anthem can not only potentially infringe the economic and moral rights of the author but also constitute criminal offences of insulting behaviour related to the national anthem. This article also finds that critical alterations of the national anthem as expressions (e.g. parodies or satires) are not well protected under the copyright laws in both mainland China and Hong Kong. The higher risk lies in the abridgement of the freedom of expression brought out by the newly introduced criminal offences and also latest technological advancements. This article also suggests that the copyright laws in both mainland China and Hong Kong must explicitly recognise parody and satire as acceptable exceptions to the economic and moral rights enjoyed by both the author and the copyright owner and thereby empower the courts to better delimit the boundaries between tolerable expressions and insulting behaviours over the national anthem when faced with constitutional challenges.