Customs warns public to stay away from TV piracy

9 Jun 2006

In light of the upcoming World Cup, Hong Kong Customs will step up enforcement against all forms of piracy, and maintain close surveillance on the Internet.

A spokesman of the Customs and Excise Department today (June 9) warned that distribution of subscription television programme or any copyright work via the Internet without the licence of the copyright owner might constitute criminal liability.

Under the Copyright Ordinance, it is an offence for a person to distribute infringing copies of copyright works otherwise than for the purpose of, in the course of, any trade or business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, without the licence of the copyright owner. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 per infringing copy and four years' imprisonment.

If Customs officers come across any such intellectual property infringement offence on the Internet, they will take appropriate law enforcement action.

In addition, downloading from the Internet any copyright work, including subscription television programme, without the licence of the copyright owner, may constitute civil liability. The downloaders of infringing materials may face civil claim from the copyright owner.

Noting media reports that live broadcast of World Cup matches by subscription television might be available for free viewing on the Internet by using certain software, Hong Kong Customs appealed to the public not to engage in such TV piracy activities.

Under the Broadcasting Ordinance, it is an offence for anyone, in the course of trade or business, import, sell or use an unauthorized decoder which enables illegal viewing of subscription television in Hong Kong. The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $1,000,000 and imprisonment for 5 years.

Both commercial and domestic users of the decoder will also be subject to civil court action by the subscription television operators.

The spokesman of the Customs and Excise Department emphasizes that during the World Cup period, Customs officers will tighten inspection to seize any such illegal decoders imported into Hong Kong at all boundary control points.

The public is encouraged to report any suspected piracy to Hong Kong Customs by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Friday, June 9, 2006

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