Hong Kong Customs detects suspected infringing case involving circumventing paid TV channels (with photo)

21 Oct 2022

Hong Kong Customs conducted an enforcement operation on October 19 to combat infringement activities involving circumventing paid TV channels. A batch of suspected circumvention devices was seized at a retail shop in Sham Shui Po and a man suspected to be connected with the case was arrested.

Customs earlier received information from a copyright owner alleging that a designated application program to circumvent some of their paid TV channels had been put on sale online. Initial investigation revealed that a seller had set up a dedicated account on an online marketplace to sell an application program to watch paid TV channels and also manned a retail shop to sell tablet computers and video equipment installed with the application program.

After an in-depth investigation and with the assistance of the copyright owner, Customs officers on October 19 raided a retail shop in Sham Shui Po suspected to be connected with the case and seized a batch of suspected circumvention devices, including four televisions, 41 tablet computers and 62 sets of video equipment, with an estimated market value of about $120,000. The 30-year-old male shop owner suspected of providing circumvention services in the course of business was arrested.

An investigation is ongoing.

Customs stressed that the copyright owner had applied an effective technological measure to protect its own copyright work. Those who wish to watch the paid TV channels legitimately must subscribe to the service with the copyright owner and watch the channels either by using the official decoder or logging in to the online service account provided by the copyright owner. The arrested person in this case was suspected to have, for the purpose of a circumvention business, told customers that the application program offered for sale could be used to watch paid TV channels.

Anticipating that the 2022 FIFA World Cup matches will provide opportunities for criminals to develop infringement business, Customs will continue to maintain close co-operation with copyright owners, and step up patrols in the market and on the Internet, as well as take stringent enforcement action against infringing activities.

Customs reminds shop owners and salespersons not to take part in circumvention activities since selling a circumvention device or providing a circumvention service is a serious crime. Also, members of the public should respect intellectual property rights and not buy any circumvention devices. Unknown websites connected with the circumvention devices might contain computer viruses or malware which can pose a risk to users.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, any person who, for the purpose of a circumvention business, or in the course of a circumvention business, sells or lets 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, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for four years.

Members of the public may report any suspected infringing activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Friday, October 21, 2022

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