Customs authorities arrested a 25-year-old man for illegally distributing pirated television content, including popular foreign and local dramas, through an online forum.
Following a raid on some premises in Kwai Tsing district on Monday, officers from the Customs’ Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau seized a computer and six hard disk drives containing over 10,000 episodes of TV drama series.
About a tenth of the content on the computer files was found to be local drama productions, including the popular “Law Disorder” series currently airing during prime time on TVB, while the rest comprised pirated programs from South Korea, Japan and mainland China.
A man, believed to be the administrator of an online discussion group, was arrested for running an illegal subscription service for the pirated content.
Customs officials said they spent two months in investigating the case after receiving intelligence that pirated TV programs were being distributed commercially via peer-to-peer file-sharing software.
Officers registered as members for the service, paid money and successfully downloaded TV programs.
Investigations revealed that the pirated content was streamed out of a flat in Kwai Tsing district. Programs were usually available for download four to five hours after they were aired on TV.
Guy Fong Wing-kai, divisional commander of the Customs, said the peer-to-peer content distributing discussion board was in operation for about two to three months and that it had roped in more than a thousand members.
The subscribers, who were paying a monthly fee of HK$38 for the pirated content, were mainly overseas Chinese from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, mainland China and Taiwan.
Fong stressed that his agency is determined to root out online piracy activities, especially those involving computer servers set up within Hong Kong.
The department appealed to the public to respect intellectual property rights, reminding them that copyright infringement could lead to imprisonment of up to four years and a fine of HK$50,000.
Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) welcomed the Customs operation and said that it hopes that the Legislative Council will pass the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the new legislative year.
Senior barrister Albert Luk Wing-hung warned that people downloading pirated content from the internet could be liable to civil claims by the copyright owners.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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