Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Allen Woods

First Page



In 1997, the government of Hong Kong enacted the Copyright Ordinance. The goal of the Ordinance was to establish a strong deterrent against the illegal manufacture and sale of copyright infringing materials, especially pirated video and digital compact discs. Courts have interpreted the Ordinance to allow the Customs and Excise Department sweeping powers of search and seizure. As a result, the government has seized many thousands of copyright infringing video compact discs and courts have enforced lengthy custodial sentences against guilty parties.

Despite these efforts, though, film piracy continues to grow throughout Hong Kong and transnational film interests have begun to call for even more stiff penalties and greater deterrence. The failure of the current deterrent in the Ordinance, however, suggests that continuing with that approach to combat piracy will most likely fail. As a result, this Note examines the many cultural and legal issues surrounding the supply and demand for copyright infringing discs and argues that Hong Kong must take a different approach, not relying on deterrence, to resolve this growing problem.