SCIT visits Customs and Excise Department

2 Feb 2006

The Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph W P Wong, today (February 2) was briefed by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Timothy Tong, on the latest development of the Department's strategy in promoting intellectual property rights (IPRs) and clamping down on copyright piracy.

During a visit to Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau of the Department, Mr Wong was pleased to note that Hong Kong Customs would roll out a scheme with the Intellectual Property Department in April to engage youngsters from 11 local youth uniform organisations in the fight against illegal file-sharing activities by means of BitTorrent (BT) software on the Internet.

Supporting the scheme, Mr Wong said, "Customs fights copyright piracy with vision and foresight. Law enforcement is necessary and serves as a good deterrent, but only by involving the community would we be able to generate a more powerful and lasting effect."

He was briefed that through the initiative, Customs aimed to instill a strong sense of respect for IPRs in young people and enlist their support in cracking down on Internet piracy.

Under the scheme entitled "Youth League for Monitoring Internet Piracy", some 200,000 members of 11 local youth uniform organisations will join hands to reduce the flow of BT seeds on the Internet.

The scheme is one of the many committed efforts of Hong Kong Customs to curb Internet piracy and could effectively expand the network for monitoring illegal distribution of infringing copyright works through local BT networks.

Mr Wong learned that the seed-uploading activities of films using BT network in Hong Kong had significantly diminished after Hong Kong Customs arrested a 38-year-old Internet user on January 12, 2005 in its first-ever successful enforcement action against P2P type infringement activities.

During his visit, Mr Wong saw for himself the operation of two Anti-Internet Piracy Teams. Since the Department started taking enforcement actions against Internet piracy in 2000, these two teams had detected 53 cases involving copyright infringement on the Internet, leading to the arrest of 87 persons and the seizure of goods worth about $3.7 million.

Noting the enforcement results, Mr Wong said, "With the fast advance in information technology, Customs is facing ever greater challenges in its fight against Internet piracy. I am confident that the Department will meet those challenges with professionalism and determination."

Mr Tong reassured Mr Wong that Hong Kong Customs would continue to stand firm on protecting IPRs.

Apart from rooting out piracy activities at the retail level, the Department takes proactive actions against production sources and storage areas of pirated discs.

As a result of relentless Customs crackdown, the number of pirated optical discs shops has further dropped from about 70 in 2004 to about 50 at the end of 2005.

Ends/Thursday, February 2, 2006

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