In an operation against illicit photocopying activities of copyright works, Customs officers of Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau yesterday (February 9) raided seven photocopying shops in Kwun Tong, San Po Kong, Hung Hom, Tseung Kwan O and Tai Wai respectively.
Apart from seven photocopiers and seven book-binding machines, Customs officers seized about 1,200 photocopies of books, half of which were HKCEE examination papers. The total seizure was worth about $140,000.
Customs officers also arrested five men and two women, aged between 34 and 59.
Hong Kong Customs believed that offenders attempted to take advantage of the upcoming public examination to make profit.
Investigation showed that the seven photocopying shops were unrelated to each other, and no syndicate was involved.
Acting on complaint from copyright owners that several photocopying shops might be involved in photocopying copyright works, Customs officers conducted investigation and mounted the operation yesterday.
A spokesman for Customs and Excise today (February 10) warned the public, particularly owners and staffs of photocopying shops, that illicit photocopying was a criminal offence.
He said, "On January 9, 2006, a 39-year-old photocopying shop owner was sentenced in Fanling Magistrates' Courts to four-week and two-month imprisonment respectively for two counts of possession of infringing copy of copyright work.
"With imprisonment terms running concurrently, the penalty has been the heaviest of it kind," he said.
He also pointed out that a "Reward Scheme to Combat Illegal Photocopying of Books" (Reward Scheme) was set up by Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society last year.
It aimed to encourage the public to provide information on activities involving underground illegal photocopying of books.
The Reward Scheme is financed by the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society and administered by the Hong Kong Customs.
Under the Copyright Ordinance, it is an offence for a person to possess, for the purpose of or in the course of a profit-making copying service business, an infringing copy of a copyright work as published in a book, magazine or periodical. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy and four years' imprisonment.
Members of the public are encouraged to report on suspected piracy activities to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Friday, February 10, 2006