Two arrested in Web-piracy raid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am

Customs officers say they have smashed the local branch of an international piracy syndicate that was using high-speed servers to upload and download items.

Two men, a 23-year-old working in information technology and a 35-year-old in transport, were arrested on suspicion of being linked to a 'topsite' - a network using a very high-bandwidth internet connection to transfer pirated items.

Computers said to be loaded with a large quantity of pirated programs, music, animation and comics were seized last week from the two. The equipment was estimated to be worth about HK$34,000.

The men allegedly downloaded pirated items from the network, which ran 100 times as fast as a normal one, and distributed the items in large quantities for profit. They allegedly produced disks to sell, or transferred the items between networks and websites. Pirated items on the network were usually the latest or yet-to-be-released products.

The network was operated in a highly secretive manner in which new members could join only through existing ones, Michael Kwan Yuk-kwan, divisional commander for copyright investigations, said.

Customs said the network had been operating for more than two years and had about 200 members in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the mainland, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, the United States and Canada.

The two men, bailed on HK$5,000 each, were thought to be the only members in Hong Kong.