Customs smashed a technology company selling karaoke systems with suspected infringing songs and movies (with photos)

15 Dec 2013

Customs officers took action earlier to search a technology company at Sham Shui Po and five other pubs at different locations in Kowloon. During the operation, officers seized 49 sets of karaoke systems loaded with suspected infringing songs and movies. The total seizure value is about $600,000. Six men and three women were arrested.

The Group Head of Intellectual Property Investigation (Operations), Mr Michael Kwan, said in a press conference today (December 15) that Customs initiated the investigation upon receiving intelligence alleging that there were bars using karaoke systems loaded with infringing songs.

Following investigation, Customs officers took action on December 10 to raid a technology company in Sham Shui Po and seized 41 sets of karaoke systems. Upon examination, each of them was found to contain about 20 000 to 30 000 songs and some movies, which were all suspected infringing items. The 54-year-old male proprietor and a 35-year-old female staff member of the company were arrested.

In addition, Customs officers searched five other pubs at various locations in Kowloon, including San Po Kong, Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan, To Kwa Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui. The pubs were found using karaoke systems loaded with suspected infringing songs and movies and were believed to be the clients of the technology company. In the operation, officers further arrested five men and two women aged 18 to 45 who are proprietors or waiters of the pubs. Eight sets of karaoke system were seized. It is estimated that the karaoke systems cost about $12,000 each.

The Customs believed that the karaoke systems loaded with suspected infringing songs and films were tailor-made by the technology company for its clients. It was also found that the karaoke systems could only be activated with a USB hardware and password supplied by the technology company to prevent any further duplication by its clients.

Mr Kwan stressed that under the Copyright Ordinance, any commercial establishment, including companies, pubs or karaokes, using infringing computer programmes, movies, TV dramas, musical recordings or music-video recordings in the course of their business will constitute a criminal offence and is subject to prosecution. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for four years and a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy. Commercial establishments have the liability to ascertain the works are not infringing copies before putting them to use.

Mr Kwan appealed to proprietors of pubs and karaokes to exercise due diligence before making a decision to purchase or hire karaoke systems. As Christmas and New Year are drawing near, Mr Kwan also reminded karaoke and pub proprietors that it is an offence to use infringing songs or movies in the course of their business and it is not advisable to violate the law for profit-making.

Anyone with information about counterfeiting activities may report to the Customs by the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Sunday, December 15 2013

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