Customs cracks down on distribution of suspected pirated TV programmes using peer-to-peer file-sharing software

7 Aug 2015

Customs investigators of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau cracked down on a case yesterday (August 6) and arrested a man aged 41 for distribution of suspected pirated TV programmes using peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software on the Internet.

Customs earlier received a complaint regarding distribution of suspected pirated TV programmes by offering P2P seed files on a discussion forum for others to download. Investigators upon study suspected that the seed files were distributed in other forums. Upon analysis of the seed files and tracing, investigation eventually found the source to be from a local address, and the seeds were distributed on another discussion forum located overseas.

After investigation, Customs officers yesterday conducted a raid operation to search a household in Sheung Shui. A man was arrested and a batch of TV recording and computer equipment with a total value of about $18,000 were seized. The man, who claimed to be unemployed, was released on bail pending further investigation.

According to investigation, the arrested person was suspected to have used the TV recording device to capture TV programmes regularly and edited them with computer software. After having removed the commercials, he used P2P sharing software to create seed files and shared them on discussion forums. The suspect posted the seed files irregularly and changed his IP address frequently to evade detection by Customs. As it takes only a few minutes to download a one-hour programme, this casts additional hurdles to investigation. In cracking down on this case, Customs officers made full use of the Lineament Monitor System to help gather evidence round the clock.

According to the Copyright Ordinance, anyone who without the license of the copyright owner distributes an infringing copy of a work to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner, whether or not it is for benefit, commits an offence. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for four years and a fine of $50,000 for each infringing copy.

Customs appeals to the public to respect intellectual property rights. Distributing pirated TV programmes, movies, music and more, irrespective of the platform involved, may constitute violation of the Copyright Ordinance. In addition to criminal liability, offenders may also face civil litigation.

If members of the public come across any suspected infringing activities, please make a report to Customs on the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Friday, August 7, 2015

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