Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Alice Lee on “Copyright Classroom” (new KE and T&L initiative)

HKU Law promotes creative and ethical use of copyright works in education with short videos
Led by HKU Faculty of Law Associate Dean (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor Ms Alice Lee, a series of short videos titled “Copyright Classroom” is produced to promote creative and ethical use of copyright works in education. In the videos, HKU law alumnus and English Language enthusiast KOL “Uncle Siu” is the voice. A total of nine videos, tailor-made for the tertiary, secondary and primary education sectors, are disseminated through “The Copyright Classroom – HKU” channel as well as Ms Lee’s education website. 
      Copyright is meant to encourage creativity by conferring exclusive rights on authors and enabling copyright owners to make profits by distributing or licensing copyright works. Nevertheless, in reality, the copyright regime is too complex and technical for a layman to comprehend. “There are burning questions regarding copyright issues in education. For example would it be copyright infringement when teachers and students include copyright works like images or music into their presentations, teaching/learning materials or social media? How about busking or school performance in which parody or adaptation is involved? Or merchandise to be sold at Lunar New Year Fair? Would any exception be granted? We hope, through these videos, both the education sector and general public would have a better understanding of the copyright principles; and be able to identify copyright exceptions in teaching and learning, and know where to look at if relevant resources and materials are needed.” said Ms Lee, who has been teaching and researching copyright law for more than 20 years and was the recipient of the 2019 University Distinguished Teaching Award.
     The project is supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Funding and HKU Teaching Development Grant. To view the Copyright Classroom, please click here. 


  1. Hello,

    As I am a student, I want to ask in examination inside university ( 6 hours exam ), for an essay question, I just forget to quote, or forgot the citations, is that an infringement of copyright?


    1. Howard,

      According to section 41(3) of the Copyrights Ordinance (Cap.528), copyright is not infringed by anything done for the purposes of an examination by way of setting the questions, communicating the questions to the candidates or answering the questions. See

      So, if you just forget to quote a literary work (say, an extract from an academic journal) in an exam, that would not amount to copyright infringement.

      Moreover, copyright law only applies to expressions of ideas but not ideas themselves. So, if you are only referring to an idea in a literary work (say, an academic journal) but not extracting the wordings from it, it may not be caught be copyright law. However, the better view is to always give reference if you can, since the line between ideas and expression of ideas could be blurred.

      You should also be careful that, depending on the exam requirements, copying others' ideas without giving proper reference to the authors might amount to plagiarism. Given that it is a 6-hour exam, the examiner may agree to dispense with full citation. But please check the exam regulations to ensure that you would be penalised for any non-compliance with the citation requirements, if any.

      Law Graduate