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Piracy syndicate members receive jail sentences for circumventing paid TV channels

28 December 2017


Hong Kong Customs detected an infringing case involving a piracy syndicate circumventing paid TV channels in 2014. Three offenders under the case were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 21 to 27 months today (December 28).

This is the first-ever case in Hong Kong in which charges of "providing circumvention device or service" and "conspiracy to defraud" were applied in successful prosecution against a piracy syndicate circumventing paid TV channels. Welcoming the ruling, a spokesperson for Customs attributed the successful prosecution to the full support and close co-operation of the copyright owner.

The trio, comprising the 40-year-old syndicate mastermind, his 54-year-old assistant and a 54-year-old stall owner, were charged with "providing circumvention device or service" and "conspiracy to defraud" offences. The syndicate mastermind was sentenced by the District Court today to imprisonment of 27 months, and the other two persons were sentenced to 21 months respectively. The sentence is the heaviest penalty ever for Internet piracy in Hong Kong.

The spokesperson described the rulings and sentences as a strong deterrent to similar piracy activities, adding that the case is significant in the context of Customs enforcement against Internet piracy.

Customs will continue striving to combat Internet piracy and maintain close collaboration with the copyright owners. Upon detection of suspicious infringing activities or receipt of related complaints, Customs will contact the related copyright owners promptly to confirm whether there is criminal copyright infringement and take appropriate actions.

Customs reminds members of the public that copyright infringement and conspiracy to defraud are serious criminal offences. Under the Copyright Ordinance, a person commits an offence if the person, for the purpose of a circumvention business, or in the course of a circumvention business, sells or let for hire a relevant device, or provides relevant service in order to allow circumventing an effective technological measure which has been applied in relation to a copyright work. Offenders are liable on conviction to a maximum penalty of a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for four years. Under the Crimes Ordinance, any person convicted of the offence of conspiracy to defraud shall be liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 14 years.

Customs also appeals to members of the public to report to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 if they have information on any suspected infringing activities.

 

Ends/Thursday, December 28, 2017

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