Hong Kong Customs shut down website selling pirated movie DVDs

MUMBAI: Officers of the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED) Anti Internet Piracy Team (AIPT) arrested a 31-year-old Hong Kong man for selling pirated DVDs online through an online website.

The raids followed an investigation by the HKC&ED prompted by information provided by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC), the Motion Picture Association’s Hong Kong Program. The investigation was complicated by the operator’s security measures, including a policy of selling only to known customers. AIPT officers were able to purchase a number of discs which were confirmed to contain infringing movies and arrested the operator.

The investigation has confirmed that the operator obtained his source movies by illegal Internet downloads and by copying discs rented from legitimate DVD rental shops. He would then burn customers’ orders onto DVD-Rs and deliver by hand or by post.

Raids after the arrest resulted in the seizure of two computers, eight DVD-R burners, 1,000 DVD-Rs containing pirated movies and 12 hard discs containing over 2,000 infringing movie files. Movies titles seized included Motion Picture Association member company titles 2012, Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, titles belong to members of the Content of Japan Mark Committee of Content Overseas Distributors Association (including My Neighbor Totoro and Detective Conan) and a large number of Hong Kong produced movies including Echoes of the Rainbow and Iron Man 2.

"The success of this raid is a tribute to the professionalism and resourcefulness of Hong Kong Customs officers who managed to overcome elaborate security measures designed to protect a sophisticated criminal operation," said IFACT-GC executive director and general manager Sam Ho. "Anyone considering involvement in movie piracy should consider the heavy prison sentence the operator of this website is now facing; it just isn’t worth it."

The website has been shut down by the HKC&ED and the computers and equipment seized have been sent to the Government Forensic Laboratory for further examination. The suspect has since been charged under Copyright Ordinance for making and selling pirated optical discs.

Maximum penalties for copyright infringement in Hong Kong are a fine of HK$50,000 and four years imprisonment per offence.