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First peer-to-peer infringer arrested in Hong Kong


Hong Kong Customs has taken its first successful enforcement action against copyright piracy relating to peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing activities.

The action resulted from the follow-up investigation into the findings of the P2P Task Force set up by the Department and the film industry.

An unemployed local man, aged 38, was arrested yesterday (January 12) on suspicion of illegally distributing copyright movies on the Internet through Bit Torrent (BT).

Hosting a press conference today (January 13), the Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence and Investigation), Mr William Chow, said that the enforcement signified the resolve of the Department of Customs and Excise in tracking down copyright infringing activities over P2P networks in the local environment by using their expertise and the latest technology to employ round-the-clock monitoring.

On January 10 and 11, Customs officers successfully located a person who had uploaded three movies of different titles onto a local BT discussion forum for sharing by other peer-to-peer network users on the Internet.

Shortly before 8am yesterday, Customs officers executed a court warrant and searched a residential unit in Tuen Mun to investigate the suspected illegal distribution of copyright movies.

On the premises, Customs officers seized two computers, some computer-related equipment and a batch of movie VCDs, and arrested a 38-year-old man.

Initial Customs investigations indicate that the man had uploaded the movies for sharing with other peers.

Investigations are continuing. The Motion Picture Association has confirmed that the three movies in question were productions of its member companies, and the act of file-sharing had infringed their copyright.

The joint P2P Task Force set up on December 16 last year will continue to monitor the P2P networks, and will take immediate action to follow up on any suspected cases.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, it is an offence for a person to distribute infringing copies of copyright works other than for the purpose of, in the course of, any trade or business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, without the licence of the copyright owner. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy and four years' imprisonment.

Hong Kong Customs appeals to Internet users to respect intellectual property rights and not to commit piracy-related offences.

Also attending the press conference were the Director of Operations (Greater China) of the Motion Picture Association, Mr Sam Ho; and Head of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, Mr Tam Yiu-keung.

Ends/Thursday, January 13, 2005


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