THREE men have been imprisoned for 21 to 27 months for making and selling pirated television set-top boxes that enable users to watch World Cup broadcasts and other programmes illegally.
The prison terms were the harshest sentences handed down against online copyright infringement in Hong Kong.
Customs offi cers busted the set-top boxes syndicate three years ago when the 2014 World Cup matches were being staged.
Two technicians subscribed and configured 11 paid channels from Now TV and retransmitted them through a mainland server. Maige TV Box, the illicit streaming device, then offered direct links to the stolen channels.
A technician, aged 39, was jailed for 27 months while a fellow technician and the seller, both aged 53, were jailed for 21 months. They had pleaded guilty to charges including providing a circumvention device or service and conspiracy to defraud – marking the first convictions involving illicit set-top boxes.
The judge said the three’s transmissions had adversely affected Now TV with a HK$4 million potential loss of revenue.
Now TV’s price list shows that paid channels and packages cost from HK$10 to HK$428 per month. The Maige TV Box was sold for HK$2,200 but users got to watch films, TV shows and live sports for free.
The Customs’ Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau called the ruling “a strong deterrent”.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 08 January 2018)
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