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7. Further to question 6, are government publications in the public domain?

No. Government publications enjoy copyright and the owner is the Government. This applies to all works created by civil servants in the course of their duties. Copyright of such works is referred to in the Copyright Ordinance as "Government copyright". Government copyright of a work lasts for 125 years from the making of the work. However, if the work is published commercially within 75 years from its making, the Government copyright will expire 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first so published (see section 182 of the Copyright Ordinance).


The Government is entitled to copyright with respect to every Ordinance it creates. Government copyright lasts for 50 years from the publication of the Ordinance in the Gazette. Currently, the Government has made all Ordinances available on a website known as Hong Kong e-Legislation (HKeL), and granted the public a licence to download, print, make copies and distribute Ordinances on HKeL for non-commercial purposes . The same set of Ordinances is also available on the website of the Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII), a free website on the primary legal materials of Hong Kong maintained by the Law and Technology Centre of The University of Hong Kong.