A District Court judge hearing an intellectual property infringement case has lashed out at the lack of a centralised system for checking who owns the copyright for recorded material. Judge Chua Fi-lan was hearing the case of three men charged with seven offences related to the seizure of about 1 million pirated VCDs and machinery for their production early last year. Tsui Chun-kit, 67, Cheung Chi-yi, 34, and Kwok Man-yuen, 43, and two companies they were associated with, Henry Technology Development and Topwide Technologies, have pleaded not guilty to two counts of possessing pirated material, two counts of producing infringing products and three counts of possessing machinery for its production. 'It is well established that it is very, very difficult to find out who the [copyright] owner is,' Judge Chua said. 'I have said before that there should be a register of every film and every piece of music made and who is the owner.' She said even the customs service had difficulty tracing who the actual owners of some of the 200 or so works involved in the case were. The law required that if someone was found with items that infringed copyright, a court needed to be satisfied they knew it to be so, or had made an appropriate effort to satisfy themselves of its authenticity, before passing judgment. It has been alleged that Cheung, chief shareholder in Topwide, signed a deal with a Thai company to produce VCDs in Hong Kong for distribution across Thailand. He had been given documents written in Thai purporting to be licensing agreements for reproducing those works in Hong Kong. But unbeknownst to him, according to his defence counsel, the alleged licensing agreements were no good outside Thailand. The case centres around whether Cheung - who had a history of producing legitimate VCDs at his Sha Tin factory - put enough effort into verifying that he was in fact legally entitled to reproduce the works. Judge Chua suggested that his neglecting to have the contract translated from Thai into Chinese or English would seem to have been a major oversight. 'But how high do we set the bar. No Hong Kong businessman should be that naive. This is big business and they must take those steps,' she said. The hearing was adjourned until October 28.