Customs combats itinerant hawkers selling pirated optical discs (with photo)

22 Jan 2011

Customs mounted a targeted operation against itinerant hawkers selling pirated optical discs in the past two months. Up till today (January 22), Customs officers have detected 27 cases with arrest of 27 people and seizure of about 17,000 suspected pirated optical discs (PODs) valued at about $470,000.

Customs recently found that criminals set up POD storage in the Kowloon district and used private cars as a mobile storage to supply PODs to itinerant hawkers for selling in popular shopping districts in Hong Kong. In view of such illegal activities, the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau conducted an operation code-named "Hare" targeting the selling of PODs by itinerant hawkers.

During the operation, Customs officers detected 27 cases and successfully smashed one fixed POD storage and two mobile/temporary storages. A private car and about 17,000 PODs were seized. The total seizure amounted to about $470,000. Moreover, 27 men aged from 21 to 48 were arrested. Most of the arrested persons were unemployed or hawkers. The seized PODs were mainly of popular movies, drama episodes and music. The operation is ongoing.

Speaking at a press conference today, Divisional Commander (Copyright Investigation), Ms Catherine Yip, said the Customs would continue the enforcement action. Specifically, Customs will strengthen the strategic patrols at hot shopping spots and clamp down on POD hawker activities during the Lunar New Year period.

Ms Yip said that sale of pirated discs was a serious crime and offenders would have a criminal record when convicted. She appealed to people not to take part in the illegal activities.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, a person commits an offence if he, without the licence of the copyright owner of a copyright work, possesses an infringing copy for commercial purpose. The maximum penalty is an imprisonment for four years and a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy.

Customs will also step up enforcement actions against infringing activities during the Lunar New Year period and appeal to any person who comes across any infringing activities to report to Customs by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Saturday, January 22, 2011

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