Government welcomes internet piracy decision

Updated at 6.05pm: The government on Wednesday welcomed a decision by the Court of First Instance to make Hong Kong internet providers supply the identities of alleged illegal film downloaders.

On Tuesday Justice Anselmo Reyes in the Court of First Instance ordered the internet service providers to disclose the names, identity card numbers, postal and billing addresses of 49 alleged copyright violators.

They were alleged to have downloaded three local films - Shopaholics, Fearless, and Mcdull the Alumni - using BitTorrent software during the Lunar New Year.

Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping said on Wednesday that the court's ruling would send a strong message to internet pirates.

'The court's decision has sent out a very clear message to infringers that they cannot get away with their internet piracy activities,' he said.

Mr Wong said the government was determined to combat internet piracy and would continue with the current approach to encompass enforcement, public education and co-operation with the copyright owners.

'The government fully supports rights owners who take civil action against infringers and will complement their efforts through our determined action against criminal infringements,' he said.

Tuesday's case is the first time Hong Kong film companies have been granted such an order and comes after local music companies sued 22 people for sharing and downloading copyrighted music from the internet. It enables them to pursue civil actions against illegal copyright infringement on the internet.

Mr Wong also urged internet users to respect the copyrights of creative industries, and pointed out that illegal uploading or downloading activities could be tracked down.

'I would also like to appeal to parents to keep an eye on their children to ensure that they do not engage in such activities which can attract civil or even criminal liability,' the secretary added.