Government unites with 200,000 Youth Ambassadors in protecting intellectual property rights

19 Jul 2006

Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Timothy Tong, today (July 19) announced that since the pilot run of the "Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme" ("Youth Ambassador Scheme") in February, Hong Kong Customs had until yesterday (July 18) received some 1,200 reports of suspected BT seeds involving pirated copyright work.

Over 60 per cent of such infringing BT seeds had been removed. As for the remainders, a great majority had been invalidated, while a handful accounting for less than one per cent were currently under Customs investigation.

Mr Tong said, "The Scheme has already marked a new milestone of success in the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on the Internet.

"Today, when the scheme comes into full swing with 200,000 Youth Ambassadors called upon to join a worthwhile cause, a force emerges. Not only will the Youth Ambassadors reinforce Hong Kong's status as a pioneer in IPRs protection, we also hope to send to the world a strong message of respect for copyright and creativity," he said.

On behalf of the 200,000 youth members who had joined the "Youth Ambassador Scheme", leaders of 11 local youth uniformed organisations today (July 19) at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai pledged to protect IPRs by taking concrete actions to stamp out Internet piracy under the Scheme.

Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph WP Wong; Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose SK Lee; Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Timothy Tong; and Acting Director of Intellectual Property, Mr Peter KF Cheung, along with representatives from the creative and intellectual property industries, witnessed the 1,600 youngsters who were from 11 local youth uniformed organisations taking the vow at the "Youth Ambassador Scheme" Launching Ceremony and "I Pledge" Campaign at the Stadium.

The "Youth Ambassador Scheme", initiated by Hong Kong Customs in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Department, was one of the main campaigns in a series of publicity and educational programmes for IPRs protection launched by Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau on May 29.

Commissioner Tong said that the Scheme manifested the results of tripartite cooperation. "It pools together the Government, copyright industry and the community for combating illegal file sharing activities of pirated movie and music files by BT software in local websites."

Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph WP Wong, reiterated that the Government was determined to combating acts of infringement on the Internet. "Apart from effective legal protections and stringent law-enforcement actions, on-going publicity and education is also called for."

He said, "The 'Youth Ambassador Scheme' symbolises a major breakthrough in that for the first time, 200,000 youngsters are mustered to achieve the common goals of fighting Internet piracy, protecting intellectual property rights, and encouraging innovation and creativity. At the same time, far from being just a publicity and educational programme, the Scheme involves the concrete action of removing infringing copies of copyright works found on the Internet."

While commending the Customs and Excise Department for having come up with such an unprecedented and novel idea, Mr Wong said he was proud of all Youth Ambassadors who had joined the Scheme.

Mr Wong said, "You have assumed the role of 'potential law-enforcing officers', responsible for the physical containment of piracy by monitoring and reporting the distribution of any infringing copies of copyright works on the Internet.

"More than that, you have set an excellent example of honesty and integrity for your peers. I wish to make the following appeal to all of you. While you are giving assistance in the fight against acts of infringement, please bring home to your schoolmates and friends more frequently the importance of and significance in protecting IPRs. I am sure that with you spreading the message and putting it into action, your peers will be more readily convinced," he said.

Apart from the "Youth Ambassador Scheme", the Government will launch a new round of publicity programmes for the anti-Internet piracy cause, featuring school visits, new TV and radio Announcements of Public Interest (APIs), and the introduction of teaching aids for schools.

Mr Wong hoped that the new round of publicity would press home the message - "Do not think that you can get away with any illegal uploading and downloading". He said, "In fact, these acts are not undetectable and the offenders will have to bear very serious consequences."

Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose SK Lee, said while delivering a speech at the ceremony, "In the wake of the on-going development of society and the burgeoning knowledge-based economy, one of the priorities of the HKSAR Government is to protect our creative industries.

"We are fully committed to setting up a robust and effective system for protecting IPRs, as well as maintaining a fair and sound legal framework. In the field of law enforcement, Hong Kong Customs has been taking stringent actions against infringements of IPRs. As a result of its relentless efforts, piracy and counterfeiting activities have been brought under firm control.

"As the Internet develops at a tremendous pace, on the one hand we revel in the high level of convenience and all the fun it has offered, on the other it has posed great challenges to those responsible for enforcing the law. Every day, using their creativity and supported by hi-tech equipment and expertise, law enforcers are engaged in the virtual space in an intellectual battle with offenders carrying out illicit activities on the Internet," Mr Lee said.

However, given the infinity of the cyberspace, it is quite impossible for the law-enforcing officers to station themselves at every corner. Mr Lee said, "The 'Youth Ambassador Scheme' that is launched today by Hong Kong Customs in conjunction with the intellectual property rights sector and 11 youth uniformed organisations in Hong Kong is exactly designed to inject a large monitoring force into the Internet to back up the law-enforcement agencies, so that we could jointly create a piracy-free environment and protect the local creative industries."

Mr Lee added, "It is gratifying to see that the pillars of tomorrow's Hong Kong are playing a positive role not only for today's society, but also for their own future by undertaking to protect IPRs. I hope that after today's launching ceremony, this growing force of righteousness will spread far and wide."

Stressing that the launching ceremony was only a starting point, Commissioner Tong revealed that Hong Kong Customs was considering setting up a Youth Ambassador Secretariat to ensure the smooth operation of the Scheme, to facilitate the communication and coordination between the uniformed organisations and the IPRs organisations, as well as to organise training and activities of various kinds for the Youth Ambassadors, with a view to enhancing their awareness of IPRs protection and sustaining their passion.

"I am confident that with the overwhelming force of these young people and the unfaltering belief of 'Cooperating Online, Protecting Creativity' among all sectors, our culture of originality will flourish and creative industries prosper with greater success," Mr Tong said.

The Scheme has three main objectives, that is, promoting the importance of IPRs; expanding the avenues for monitoring illegal Internet activities by involving young people, and reducing the flow of infringing BT seeds on the Internet.

Through actively engaging young people in suppressing Internet piracy, the Scheme targets to instill the sense of respect for IPRs in youngsters, hence building a firm base for the society in IPRs protection.

Apart from the 200,000 youngsters, aged from nine to 25, from the 11 local youth uniformed organisations, the Scheme has gained the support of five major organisations in the IPRs industry, covering movie, TV drama and music accounting for most of the local and overseas market share.

Under the Scheme, Hong Kong Customs had earlier on introduced a new web page and a notification mechanism within the official website of the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Alliance (

Members may log into the purpose-built website of Hong Kong Customs with the password assigned to their respective organisations, and report any suspected BT infringement seeds found on local discussion forums by inputting the relevant information under a simple mechanism.

After some preliminary scrutiny, Customs will liaise with relevant copyright representatives for verification. Should a BT seed be confirmed a piracy file, relevant webmaster of the discussion forum will be requested to remove the concerned BT seed or take appropriate action in due course.

The 11 participating local youth uniformed youth organisations are Junior Police Call, Scout Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Road Safety Patrol, Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps, Civil Aid Service (Cadet Corps), Hong Kong Girl Guides Association, The Boys' Brigade (Hong Kong), The Hong Kong St. John Ambulance Brigade (Cadet Region), Hong Kong Adventure Corps, Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps, and The Girls' Brigade (Hong Kong).

To show Hong Kong's commitment to the anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting cause, Intellectual Property Department (IPD) launched the "I Pledge" Campaign in 1999. With the aim to instill a sense of pride among consumers, to urge them not to buy pirated and counterfeit goods, and to promote awareness of IPRs, the "I Pledge" Campaign has so far attracted over 8,000 members to join. The members pledge not to buy or use pirated or counterfeit goods and show respect for the IPRs of others.

With a view to fighting Internet piracy, IPD has revised the obligation of "I Pledge" Campaign and added a new clause - "I support and participate in any activities related to anti-Internet piracy" - so as to promote IPRs in the digital environment.

Ends/Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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