More than 100 protesters marched to government headquarters demanding that parody and satire be exempted from the proposed amendments to the copyright ordinance.
They want the proposed changes scrapped unless there are guarantees that posting derivative works online will not invite prosecution.
Protesters from several pan- democrat parties gathered outside Admiralty Centre at 11.30am yesterday before marching to Tamar Park waving banners and paper cleavers bearing the words "Against Section 23" - a reference to the shelved national security legislation.
"The amendment changing a civil case into a criminal charge will not protect copyright holders," protest organizer and Neo Democrat Gary Fan Kwok-wai said. "Instead, it will provide one more way for the ill- intentioned to strip away freedom and enforce mind control."
The Copyright (Amendment) Bill seeks to extend infringement rules to the web, criminalizing derivative works made for profit or those leading to significant economic loss.
Protesters fear the bill, if passed, will make posting derivative works online or even on social networking sites a criminal offense.
They also say the draft will allow police to clamp down on political opposition and stifle creativity.
"I'm very concerned that ... our group will be negatively affected," said Lee Pui-yuet, organizer of a group specializing in parody posts.
The government insists that the bill will not limit freedom of expression and the incoming administration will hold consultations on parody exemptions. But protesters want the consultation to be held before the Legislative Council passes the bill.
"Holding a consultation after the law is passed doesn't make sense," said a protester named Ling.
Last week, People Power lawmakers filed more than 1,400 amendments, forcing the vote to be delayed by up to four weeks.
However, pan-democrats remain divided on amendments. The Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah and the Labour Party will support the bill if there is little chance of satirists being prosecuted. The Civic and Democratic parties want parody exempted.
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