Intellectual Property – Hong Kong – Copyright



Copyright is the right given to the author and/or owner of an original work. This right can subsist in literary works such as books and computer software, musical works, plays, artistic works such as drawings, paintings and sculptures, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmers. The design drawing or sketches of industrial products are also protected.


Copyright is an automatic right. It arises when a work is created, it is not necessary to register a copyright in Hong Kong in order to get protection under the law. Works of authors from any place in the world, or works first published anywhere in the world also qualify for copyright protection in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong’s new Copyright Ordinance came into effect on 27 June 1997. It provides comprehensive protection for recognized categories of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, as well as for films, television broadcasts and cable diffusion, and works made available to the Public on the Internet.


Through the application of many international copyright conventions in Hong Kong. i.e. the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, the Phonograms Convention and the World Trade Organisation – Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, your work is also protected in most countries and territories in the world.




A copyright owner can take civil legal action against any person who infringes the copyright in the work. The activities that the owner can prevent vary according to various types of works; but essentially the owner has the exclusive right to copy the work and to distribute it to the public. The owner may seek an injunction to prevent further infringement and may be able to claim damages from the infringer.





There are wide-ranging provisions in the law for criminal enforcement of copyright. Those who commit copyright piracy, such as making of or possession of infringing articles for trade or business, may be subject to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 per infringing article and a term of imprisonment of up to four years.


Importing or exporting pirated articles is a criminal offence. It is also an offence to be involved in copyright piracy outside Hong Kong for the purpose of importation into Hong Kong. Those who manufacture equipment for copyright piracy may also be liable to a fine of HK$500,000 and a term of imprisonment of up to eight years.


The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for enforcing criminal aspects of copyright infringement. It has extensive powers of search and seizure in the investigation of alleged infringements, and has the power to confiscate suspected infringing copies whether or not a charge has been laid.