Customs clamps down on illicit photocopying

13 Oct 2008

Customs officers conducted a two-week-long territory-wide operation codenamed “Phoenix” to clamp down on infringing reprographic activities from Sept 29 to Oct 10.

Acting on information from copyright owners about suspected illicit photocopying activities, Customs officers from the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau mounted intensive investigation and conducted the operation.

They raided six photocopying shops in Shau Kei Wan, Quarry Bay, To Kwa Wan, Sham Shui Po, Tseung Kwan O and Tin Shui Wai, leading to the seizure of 174 infringing photocopies of books, six photocopiers and six binding machines, worth about $77,000 in total. The infringing photocopies included secondary school textbooks, university textbooks and reference books.

Five men and three women, aged 20 to 53, were arrested. Among them, six were shop owners and two were shop assistants. They are on bail pending further investigations.

Customs appealed to photocopying shop owners not to engage in illicit photocopying business, or they would face prosecution.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, it is an offence for a person to possess, for the purpose of or in the course of a profit-making copying service business, an infringing copy of a copyright work as published in a book, magazine or periodical. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy and imprisonment for four years.

Since 2005, Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society have run a reward scheme to encourage the public to provide information on activities involving illegal photocopying of books. Any information leading to the arrest and seizure of related copying machine(s) and photocopies of books may be eligible for reward payment.

The public can report to the Customs and Excise Department by calling its 24-hour hotline 2545 6182. All information provided will be kept confidential.

Ends/Monday, October 13, 2008

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