Introduction to the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance ( “COIAO” ) (Chapter 390, Laws of Hong Kong)
The COIAO regulates the publication or display of articles with obscene or indecent content including material which is violent, depraved or repulsive.
- The COIAO covers different articles including newspapers, magazines, comic books, video tapes, video compact discs, digital video discs, tapes, electronically transmitted pictures, images etc.
- There is no statutory requirement for articles to be submitted for classification before publication. However, publishers or producers may take the initiative to submit their articles to the Obscene Articles Tribunal (“OAT”) for classification before publication. The OAT is a judicial body which consists of a magistrate and members of the public from different walks of life.
- Pursuant to the COIAO, articles may be classified into one of the following categories:
- Class I (neither obscene nor indecent)
The article can be published to any person.
- Class II (indecent)
The article cannot be published to persons under the age of 18. It should be sealed in a wrapper. At least 20% of the front and back covers should contain the statutory warning notice. Particulars of the publisher should also be printed on the front or back cover of the article.
- Class III (obscene)
The article is prohibited from publication.