Hong Kong's nine major filmcompanies and representatives from five trade organisations gathered yesterday(Feb 17) to present their official response to the government's current reviewof the territory's copyright laws.

The Hong Kong governmentissued a consultation paper last December that proposes changes to theCopyright Ordinance but doesn't directly mention the growing threat of onlinepiracy.

The joint industry group isalso concerned that other issues such as rental rights are not adequatelycovered by current legislation.

The industry called on thegovernment to carry out a "thorough review" of existing copyright laws toensure that they "meet the increasing challenges from internet and technologyissues".

The group also asked thegovernment to examine the role and liability of internet service providers andweb-hosting companies in regard to illegal downloading activity.

Among other recommendations,the industry asked that rental rights should be extended to films. At present,it's difficult to take action against Hong Kong video stores that rent outconsumer sell-through videos rather than the licensed rental copy. However,sound recordings and computer programmes are currently protected by rentalrights.

The industry also asked thatthe government maintain existing laws that prevent parallel imports for aperiod of 18 months after theatrical release.

"We hope the government willconsider our response carefully so that their powers and resources can beeffectively employed to help the film industry," said Media Asia executivedirector John Chong.

Hong Kong's top movie mogulsturned up to support the industry response, including: Emperor Motion Pictureschairman Albert Yeung, Golden Harvest founder Raymond Chow, China Star'sCharles Heung and Media Asia chairman Peter Lam. Also present were executivesfrom Mandarin Entertainment, Mei Ah Entertainment, Universe Entertainment,Filmko and Shaw Brothers.

Among the trade bodies thatcontributed to the response were the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers and theMotion Picture Industry Association (MPIA).