Content thieves jailed in Hong Kong | Security | News | Rapid TV News
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Three people have been imprisoned in Hong Kong after being found guilty of charges related to copyright theft and conspiracy to defraud.

Flag of Hong Kong 29 Dec 2017The culprits were caught following a raid by Hong Kong Customs officials on the suppliers of an illegal TV box service, or illicit streaming device (ISD). One, a box reseller from Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, while two others, found to be retransmitting illegal broadcasts of popular TV channels, were jailed for 21 and 27 months.

The ISDs, branded as the Maige TV Box, were being sold to consumers for $2,200 (including first 12 months subscription) and provided illegal access to hundreds of live TV channels and movies, including channels belonging to PCCW, TVB, BBC, HBO, NBA and many other international channels.

“The TV industry in Hong Kong has suffered a huge loss of revenue due to ISD piracy for many years”, said Desmond Chan, deputy general manager (legal & international operations) for TVB.

“This is the first successful case on ISDs in Hong Kong. It should send a deterrent message to those engaged in the illicit ISD business. The TV industry will continue to support the Government’s law enforcement actions. We believe that customs will soon step up their efforts in sweeping the local market and work more closely with overseas law enforcement agencies to crack down on ISD activities”.

In 2014 Hong Kong Customs officials had raided four residential premises, a warehouse and a commercial electronics retail outlet, arresting nine people and seizing 38 ISD boxes.

The defendants were subsequently charged with violating the anti-circumvention provisions of the Copyright Ordinance (s273C(1)) as well as common law offences of conspiracy to defraud.

Asian pay-TV industry body CASBAA congratulated the Hong Kong police and customs on the successful outcome of their legal action against the content pirates.

“They uncovered a criminal fact pattern and acted upon it decisively,” said John Medeiros, chief policy officer, CASBAA. “This type of crime heaps huge illicit profits into the pockets of criminal syndicates behind the manufacture and sale of ISDs, as well as the retransmission of the unauthorised content. Live sports channels, TV series and other premium broadcasting content is being stripped of value by the inundation of ISD boxes which provide illegal access to television programming. We are happy that customs and the police are helping to stem that tide.”

Neil Gane, general manager of the recently launched CASBAA Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), added: “ISDs with preloaded applications are readily available in many electronic outlets in Hong Kong with sales teams implying to consumers that the TV channels and movies available on the TV boxes are legal and the ‘very cheap’ service they sell will last indefinitely. Today’s judicial outcome has provided clarification for those who buy and sell ISDs – TV boxes with applications allowing access to illicit TV channels and movies are illegal”.