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I. Copyright

(Note: The contents of this topic are subject to change in view of the current legislative proposal to amend the Copyright Ordinance. The relevant contents will be updated if the proposed amendments are passed into law.)


Copyright is a form of property rights. It protects the way authors express themselves, which can be in the form of a written essay, an art work, a piece of music, a film, etc. If a person owns the copyright of a work, the person will have the exclusive right to carry out certain acts in respect of the work, most importantly, to copy and exploit (e.g. sell) the work, and to prevent others from copying or exploiting the work without authority.


In Hong Kong , copyright is governed by the Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528 of the Laws of Hong Kong) under which only the following nine categories of works enjoy copyright.


Category of Work


Literary Works

Written works, such as poems, novels, essays, letters, lyrics, computer programs, design specifications, user manuals, tables, and compilations.

Dramatic Works

Works intended to be performed, such as works of dance and mime, film scripts, and screenplays.

Musical Works

Musical scores.

Artistic Works

Graphic works (paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts), photographs, sculptures, collages, buildings (and models for buildings), and works of artistic craftsmanship (e.g. jewelries).

Sound Recordings

Recordings of sounds regardless of medium e.g. gramophone records, tapes, CDs, MP3 files stored on memory chips.


Recordings of moving images regardless of medium e.g. tapes, VCDs, DVDs, MPEG files stored on memory chips.


Wireless transmissions of sounds and/or visual images e.g. TV broadcasts and radio broadcasts.

Cable Programmes

Items included in a service via cable e.g. cable TV programmes.

Typographical arrangements of published editions

Layouts and typographies of published works (e.g., newspapers, books or magazines).

It is important to note that an item may be protected by more than one copyright as it may consist of more than one copyright work. A good example is a book, which may contain the following copyright works: written words (literary works), drawings (artistic works), photographs (artistic works), and the overall layout of the book (typographical arrangement). Similarly, a musical CD may comprise the following copyright works: underlying music (musical works), lyrics (literary works), and the CD as a record (sound recording). Thus if a person makes a copy of a book or musical CD without permission, the person will infringe not just one copyright but all of the copyrights embodied in the book or CD.