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A deterrent?
November 7, 2005 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Hong Kong court jails man for creating and posting torrents.
posted by plenty (20 comments total)

 
It's not as if torrents of pirated movies are legal.
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on November 7, 2005


Hmm, yeah. I don't know about Hong Kong law, but it's not exactly legal in the US. However, here you could only be sued, not jailed, as copyright infringment is a tort, not a crime.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on November 7, 2005


It's the location and the punishment that's notable here, not the fact that someone was punished for sharing a pirated movie.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:42 AM on November 7, 2005


smackfu : It's not as if torrents of pirated movies are legal.

Actually, it isn't so clear-cut; posting a torrent is not (necessarily) equivalent to posting the actual work. Someone could post a torrent for a movie, but not seed the actual video file, so technically, nothing is being infringed. It's generally a moot point, since most torrents have at least one seed at some point or another during their life.

It's a rather fine distinction; making the torrent is not illegal in and of itself (in the US, anyway; I can't speak for HK), seeding the torrent is what's illegal, since that's when actual infringement takes places. (Presumably, making available a torrent to a seeded movie would also be illegal as "contributory" infringement.)
posted by Godbert at 6:43 AM on November 7, 2005


Nothing like using the power of the state to impose criminal penalties for civil crimes. Tax payers must love paying the bills to keep the Hollywood folks in Hummers and caviar.
posted by Goofyy at 6:43 AM on November 7, 2005


Goofyy : "Tax payers must love paying the bills to keep the Hollywood folks in Hummers and caviar."

Yeah. I'm sure they're just ecstatic about it.

I think you turned on your sarcasm faucet and forgot to turn it off. Now it's just leaking randomly all over the place.
posted by Bugbread at 6:48 AM on November 7, 2005


"In a case likely to draw attention around the globe from people who use the Internet to share movies and music recordings...."

Was I like, sleeping, when the word "steal" got changed to "share"??

The guy got three months for doing something illegal, it isn't like they took him out back and shot him...

This isn't worth an FPP, if people want to get involved in illegal file sharing, fine, they have a right to make that decision.. I really don't care to hear about it when they get busted..

and Goofyy... a little bitterness coming through there??? Did Mickey and Donald cheat you out of some royalties or something??

/disclaimer...my son is a movie producer, he has to support me when I get old..... I'm biased!
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 AM on November 7, 2005


However, here you could only be sued, not jailed, as copyright infringment is a tort, not a crime.

Unless it's willful infringement, which can get you five years. (I have no idea how you prove that it's willful, but that's the law.)
posted by smackfu at 7:09 AM on November 7, 2005


Guy Punished For Breaking Law
posted by cillit bang at 7:19 AM on November 7, 2005


HuronBob : "Was I like, sleeping, when the word 'steal' got changed to 'share'?? "

Nope, because it hasn't been changed. "Share" still means "share". "Illegally share" still means "illegally share". "Legally share" still means "legally share". "Share" includes both. In a similar vein, "take" still means "take", including both "the robber took the person's TV" and "Bob took his camera on his trip to Jamaica".
posted by Bugbread at 7:27 AM on November 7, 2005


Hong Kong authorities uphold law.

If the guy was sentenced to twenty years, then you'd have my attention.
posted by Atreides at 7:30 AM on November 7, 2005


Was I like, sleeping, when the word "steal" got changed to "share"?

Yeah, I think that was the class where they taught us how "sex" is the same as "rape" and "hit" is the same as "kill."

I've got the notes if you want to borrow them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:31 AM on November 7, 2005


bugbread... that SO did not clear this up for me! But I will take the trip you offered..

Civil... send the notes!
posted by HuronBob at 8:04 AM on November 7, 2005


Delmoi said: [In the U.S.] copyright infringement is a tort not a crime.

Not quite true, Delmoi. Under 17 USC Sec. 506(a) willful copyright infringement for commercial gain is a crime. It is punishable by imprisonment and fines under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2319 but is generally reserved for large scale commercial piracy operations.

Having said that, the use of the FBI to raid the premises of small infringers and file sharers and seize their property here in the U.S. is not unheard of (and of course the FBI only gets involved in criminal matters, not civil ones). Some argue that the entertainment industry's ability to direct the FBI in this way (via criminal complaints) gives it too much power and creates a chilling effect beyond that intended by the Copyright Laws and, in particular, Section 506.
posted by The Bellman at 8:19 AM on November 7, 2005


HuronBob writes "Did Mickey and Donald cheat you out of some royalties or something??"

No, but Disney did make a huge chunk of their money by animating fairy tales that had no copyright, and then subsequently denying all others the right to enjoy these films by artificially extending the copyright end date. Nice of them to mine our culture for money yet refuse to contribute to it unless you pay them. Anyone out there should be able to sell their own package of classic Disney toons by now, the way many companies sell "Night of the Living Dead" DVDs, as it is copyright-free. So yes, in a way, Mickey and Donald are stealing potential royalites from all of us.

The Bellman writes "willful copyright infringement for commercial gain is a crime"

How much money does anyone earn seeding torrents? If people had to pay to download them, people wouldn't download them. That's kind of the whole root of this. Is copyright infringement without financial gain a criminal act, or a tort issue?

(In my opinion I think people are better off pirating movies the old fashioned way - Netflix + DVD burner. The fines for sharing movies are insane, the fine for stealing one copy without allowing others to share it are less so.)
posted by caution live frogs at 9:12 AM on November 7, 2005


And U.S. law is of the slightest interest to Hong Kong courts... how exactly?
posted by slatternus at 9:12 AM on November 7, 2005


In my opinion I think people are better off pirating movies the old fashioned way - Netflix + DVD burner.

Seconded. All in favor, say "Aye".

The fun part will be watching the entertainment industry attempt to kill the DVD format (with its convenient, deeply flawed CSS content protection) when the victor emerges from the upcoming format war. I know many people will be sticking with the DVD format for at least a decade or more, having only recently been dragged away from VHS.
posted by mullingitover at 12:05 PM on November 7, 2005


And U.S. law is of the slightest interest to Hong Kong courts... how exactly?

In a word, trade relations. Hong Kong (or at least C.H. Tung) wants to shed the image of HK as a haven for media piracy. They are in the middle of the US-China disagreements over intellectual property and piracy.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2005


In a word, trade relations. Hong Kong (or at least C.H. Tung) wants to shed the image of HK as a haven for media piracy.

Well, Hong Kong isn't nearly the haven for media piracy that Shenzhen (just north of Hong Kong) is. Here (in Shenzhen), you can buy damn near anything pirated.
posted by taschenrechner at 6:13 PM on November 7, 2005


Tung Chee-hwa is no longer Chief Executive.

That post is now held by Donald "Sir Bow-Tie" Tsang.

As for the piracy issue: read more here.
posted by bwg at 8:46 PM on November 7, 2005


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