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Jail term for Hong Kong copyright pirate

While Japanese P2P developer is fined £6,500

Two defendants convicted of copyright infringement in Hong Kong and Japan were sentenced this week. One received jail time, while the other was fined.

In Hong Kong, Chan Nai-ming lost an appeal in Tuen Mun Magistrates' Court, after he was convicted in November of illegally distributing copyrighted material using a P2P (peer-to-peer) network – specifically BitTorrent's filesharing software. Chan began serving his three-month jail sentence on 12 December, the MPA (Motion Picture Association) said yesterday.

Chan used BitTorrent software to distribute Hollywood movies, but did not use a BitTorrent-affiliated or operated network to do so. The case was the first of its kind, with a defendant tried and convicted for illegal distribution over a P2P network.

Originally the pirates' software of choice, BitTorrent is making itself into a legitimate competitor in the online content business. Late last month, the company announced free and fee-based content distribution deals with a number of major Hollywood film and television studios.

Yesterday, the Kyoto District Court found Isamu Kaneko, the developer of the 'Winny' P2P system popular in Japan, guilty of aiding and abetting the infringement of Japan's copyright law, the MPA said. Kaneko was fined ¥1.5 million (about £6,500), the MPA said.

The MPA estimated that its member companies lost $6.1bn worldwide in 2005 to illegal reproduction or downloading of movies. In the Asia-Pacific region, it lost $1.2bn. The figures are based on what the MPA projects consumers would spend on cinema tickets, DVDs and other film-viewing opportunities if pirated film products were not available.

The MPA is the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America, the American film industry's lobbying group. It is comprised of Hollywood's largest film studios: Buena Vista, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Universal.

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