Hong Kong Law & Crime

Commercial Radio agrees not to publish leaked HKU tapes again but public domain exception stands

Commercial Radio has agreed not to republish the two leaked recordings of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Council meeting. The two parties reached a consensus at the High Court on Thursday morning, Apple Daily reported.

The hearing was related to whether the interim injunction obtained by HKU against Commercial Radio would become permanent. It was originally scheduled for Friday but was suddenly moved to Thursday.

high court

Photo: HKFP.

In court, the judge read out the consent summons between the two parties, which stated that Commercial Radio has come to an agreement with HKU not publish to the two recordings again. However, members of the public could still republish content that was already posted in the public domain.

The judge questioned whether the HKU injunction covered all Council meetings or just the one. HKU said that the matter will be dealt with in court on Friday.

Last week, Commercial Radio released two audio recordings of speeches made by Council members Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and Leonie Ki Man-fung during a controversial session on September 29 in which the governing body rejected the appointment of liberal law scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor of the university. The recordings confirmed the reasons earlier revealed by student representative Billy Fung following the meeting.

ki man-fung

File Photo: Leonie Ki Man-fung. Photo: Stand News.

HKU then obtained an interim injunction last Friday, forcing Commercial Radio to remove the recordings.

The injunction has drawn widespread criticism, with seven media unions, including the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA), protesting the decision and starting an online petition. The HKJA said that the move sets “a daunting precedent on the protection of press freedom which is enshrined in the Basic Law,” and that it was the duty of journalists to publish confidential information for the sake of public interest.

eric cheung

Professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming. Photo: HKFP.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a legal scholar at HKU, said that the media can continue to publish the recordings due to the fact that the HKU injunction includes a public domain clause, meaning that recordings from the internet that were already uploaded before the granting of the injunction were in the public domain and did not need to be taken down.

Local newspaper Apple Daily subsequently uploaded the two recordings once again. The recordings also appeared later on local porn website, This AV.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that the private recording of the meeting was “very immoral and against the rules of society,” regardless of whether these recordings were made in order to send to media organisations or for personal use.

Commercial Radio agrees not to publish leaked HKU tapes again but public domain exception stands