Customs appeals to students not to engage in piracy

27 Jun 2005

Young people shall avoid being lured into selling pirated disks or counterfeit goods just to get minimal earnings.

They shall also stay away from Internet piracy such as distributing pirated works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programme and auctioning counterfeit goods.

The above appeal to young people especially primary and secondary school students came from Hong Kong Customs today (June 27) prior to the school summer holidays.

The Department called upon students to lend full support to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) by staying away from copyright or trade mark infringement activities in the street and on the Internet.

Briefing the media today (June 27), the Divisional Commander of the Intellectual Property Investigation Support Division, Mr Louis Lee, said "Customs statistics did not show a rising trend of young people aged 21 or below arrested for offences under the Copyright Ordinance and the Trade Descriptions Ordinance in recent years. However, we intend to remind young people about the serious consequences of committing crimes in relation to intellectual property.

"With the growing popularity of Internet, and activities like cyber auctioning and P2P file sharing activities, Hong Kong Customs sees a great need of warning young people that any unlawful infringing activities will lead to criminal investigations and penalty. Offenders will have a criminal record. It is a wrong perception that infringing activities on the Internet could easily evade Customs detection.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, a person commits an offence if he, without the licence of the copyright owner, possesses for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy and imprisonment for four years.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, a person commits an offence if he has, in his possession for sale or for any purpose of trade, any goods to which a false trade description is applied or bearing a false trade mark. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Last year, Customs officers arrested 206 persons aged 21 and below for contravening the Copyright Ordinance and 50 persons aged 21 and below for contravening the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

In the first five months of this year, 59 persons under 21 were arrested under the Copyright Ordinance while seven persons under 21 under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

In terms of Internet piracy, two persons aged 21 and below were arrested in 2004 under the Copyright Ordinance; while one person aged 21 and below was arrested under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

To heighten youngsters' awareness of the importance of IPR protection, Customs has internally designed a cartoon and posted it onto the website of the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Alliance (IPRPA) ( The Alliance was established by Customs in March 2004 to provide a platform of co-operation with the IPR industry to monitor and crack down on IPR infringing activities more effectively. It also serves to educate the general public on IPR protection.

Letters will be issued to some 1,300 primary and secondary schools appealing for their support in encouraging their students to visit the IPRPA's website, and disseminating the message of IPR protection through their school activities in the new academic year.

As part of the preventive education initiative, Hong Kong Customs has been arranging seminars on Internet piracy and P2P file sharing activities for teachers and parents with the assistance of Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations since February. So far, the Anti-Internet Piracy Team has organised ten such talks. Through the train-the-trainer approach and by enhancing teachers and parents' understanding of Internet piracy, Customs targets to instill the culture of respecting IPR into students and children in a more effective manner.

To deter juvenile involvement in illegal P2P file sharing activities on the Internet, and encourage youngsters to respect IPR, the Customs and Excise Department in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Department hosted a school publicity campaign in March when promotional posters on the subject were sent to some 1300 primary and secondary schools.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected piracy and counterfeiting activities by calling Customs' 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182.

Ends/Monday, June 27, 2005

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