Under the Copyright Ordinance, copyright owners have the exclusive right in relation to the performance, playing or showing of copyright works (including films) in public. However, according to section 43 of the Copyright Ordinance, the playing or showing of a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme at an educational establishment before teachers, students, their parents or guardians and other persons directly connected with the activities of the educational establishment for the purpose of giving or receiving instruction is permissible without infringing copyright. The relevant act, however, must be done for the purpose of giving or receiving instruction. In addition, if the playing or showing of a film is for instruction purpose, provided that the relevant prescribed conditions (e.g. the act involved is a fair dealing), the fair dealing copyright exception for purposes of giving or receiving instruction under section 41A may also be applicable.
If the playing or showing of a film is not for instruction purposes, depending on the specific facts of the case, other copyright exceptions (e.g. research and private studies, criticism, review and news reporting) may be applicable.
If the activity does not fall within any of the abovementioned copyright exceptions or other copyright exceptions, and the schools have not obtained prior permission from the copyright owner or the relevant copyright licensing bodies for playing the copyright works, the schools will infringe the copyright in the works. Therefore, if there is no copyright exception applicable, the schools should first consult the copyright owner of the film or the relevant copyright licensing bodies (e.g. the Motion Picture Licensing Company (Hong Kong) Limited (MPLC)), so as to obtain permission or to reach the required agreement.
FAQs on Copyright and Education - Revised in Jun 2020 (Please refer to Questions 23, 29 to 31)
FAQs on Performing, Playing or Showing Copyright Works in Public (Please refer to Questions 4 to 6)