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5. A student has made photocopies of a book and distributed them to all of his classmates. Has he infringed copyright? What about his classmates?

The photocopies made by the student were clearly infringing copies if they were made without the permission of the copyright owner. If the student distributed the photocopies to his classmates for profit (e.g. he asked for a service charge in addition to the cost of making the photocopies), he would infringe the copyright of the book by selling infringing copies. This would incur not only civil liability but also criminal liability, in which he may also be liable to a fine and imprisonment.


However, even if the distribution was not for profit, it might be regarded as being "to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the copyright owner", as the distribution was to the entire class. In such a case, the student would still be liable for copyright infringement, incurring both civil and criminal liabilities.


It is important to note that whether or not the distribution was for profit, the defence of "fair dealing for private study" was not open to that student, as he had made multiple copies for others (see section 38(2)(b) of the Copyright Ordinance). Fair dealing is one of the exceptions to copyright infringement and more information can be found in section B.


On the other hand, regardless of whether the classmates had paid for the photocopies or not, they would not be liable, as they have not committed any act contrary to the Copyright Ordinance.