Chinese court gives 4 year jail term for fake movie licenses sale

MUMBAI: On 19 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that the Beijing Xuanwu District People’s Court convicted Yang Jianwei, for the sale of false online broadcasting licenses. This was the first criminal case relating to the fraudulent licensing of online broadcasting rights in China.

Yang, the owner of Jin Hu Dong Network Technology Co. Ltd., was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and fined RMB1.5 million (US$219,317.44). His company has gone out of business as a result of the case. The verdict has come into force as Yang did not lodge an appeal within the requisite period.

The court ruled that from 2002 to 2007, Yang had, without the consent of the copyright owners, digitally converted 460 Motion Picture Association (MPA) member company movie titles and a number of Korean movie titles and TV shows. He proceeded to sell 5,433 fake licenses to over 100 companies/websites for broadcast and broadband video-on-demand services.

"The MPA, along with rights holders from many fields, has been lobbying long and hard for increased criminal prosecutions for copyright infringement. Well-publicized criminal convictions with deterrent custodial sentences are an essential element of any strategy to discourage piracy and protect the creative industries," said MPA Asia-Pacific president and managing director Mike Ellis.

"We acknowledge and are very appreciative of the effort that the authorities have put into bringing this case to a successful conclusion and hope that authorities throughout China will follow through with many more similar cases," he added.

The Internet is becoming an increasingly important medium for both legitimate movie distribution and as a source of piracy. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the administrative agency responsible for Internet affairs under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, reported that China overtook the United States as the world’s largest Internet population in June 2008. The number of Internet users in China reached 298 million by the end of 2008, representing a 41.9 percent growth compared to 2007.