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First BitTorrent Arrest in Hong Kong 454

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the john-law-catches-on dept.
prostoalex writes "Associated Press says a 38-year-old was arrested in Hong Kong for uploading Daredevil, Red Planet and Miss Congeniality via a BitTorrent client. Hong Kong laws provide for a maximum of 4 years in prison and $6,400 fine for every copy distributed without copyright owner's permission."
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First BitTorrent Arrest in Hong Kong

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:07PM (#11353634)
    Rather, they prosecute bad taste in Hong Kong.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ... however, the judge may throw out the case, according to the recently passed "Jennifer Garner Hotness" clause. The clause would also cover "13 Going on 30" and "Elektra" uploads.
    • The really sad part will be when he gets out of prison and goes to view the movies he "paid for" and finds out that they're really mislabelled gay porn.

      Although, given the movies he was downloading, that might actually work out better for him, especially after all that time in prison.
    • Surely public key encryption could be built into the p2p clients so that at least there could only be proof that a client shared a single file. Any third party monitoring the network would only see digital static moving between nodes...
      • That would not work with bittorrent.

        Once you are associated with the tracker your IP address is visible to everyone in the swarm.

        All the *IAA has to do is pretend to be a user, connect to your client, and decrypt data received from *YOUR* IP address and it's game over....

    • Miss Congeniality, huh? He picked the wrong Sandra Bullock movie to prepare himself for life as a cyberfugitive...
  • > a 38-year-old was arrested in Hong Kong for uploading Daredevil, Red Planet and Miss Congeniality via a BitTorrent client. Hong Kong laws provide for a maximum of 4 years in prison and $6,400 fine for every copy distributed without copyright owner's permission.

    ...lawyers for the suspect have expressed gratitude to the authorities for choosing not to proceed with charges of having egregiously bad taste in cinema.

  • ok.. so it's automatically a life sentence for distributing 10 pieces of gifs you didn't own.

    pretty harsh. but then again you could get shot for something as mild as that...

    (note: it's such a thing that the gov. can use to put away anyone they want for life.. but it's not like chinese gov would need to create excuses for that)
    • No they can get a MAX of 40 years, there is no minimum jail sentence, however the fine will be $64,000 for those 10 gifs you don't own.
      • No they can get a MAX of 40 years, there is no minimum jail sentence, however the fine will be $64,000 for those 10 gifs you don't own.

        My guess would be, the more money you have towards that $64,000, the fewer years you have to do. The content industry's other licensing scheme.
  • Fortunately (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aexia (517457) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:09PM (#11353657)
    He was a bittorrent freeloader so he's only responsible for uploading 0.013 copies. That's... what? 83 bucks? I think he'll be fine.
    • This is an interesting point. Bittorrent does not transmit files in a linear fashion. The client requests parts of the file and other clients respond. It is very possible for all parts to be from seperate clients. How will they determine how many copies he distributed?
    • 83 HKD =~10.25 USD.

      Yes, he will be just fine.

      Grump
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're not using RIAA-approved math.

      He owned an ethernet cable. Ethernet cables can carry full digital copies of almost any move made, and even some that haven't been made yet.

      Ethernet cables can carry up to an average of 10 GB/s.

      He will live another 75 years or so.

      One high-definition movie can be compressed to roughly 1 GB.

      Each movie is copied an average of 100 times by other pirates.

      Each movie costs the motion picture industry USD25.

      Therefore, he is clearly capable of causing at least $59,130,000,0
  • by John.P.Jones (601028) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:09PM (#11353659)
    This is the way it will continue to be, they can't stop us so they will be forced to prosecute us...

    FACT: At some point in any file distribution protocol on the Internet a 'client' has been directed to a 'server' (peers, whatever) for a piece of information. The 'client' asks for this info and the 'server' provides it.

    If the info being transfered is copyrighted then it is not legal for the 'client' to ask for and accept this info nor it is it legal for the 'server' to respond to these requests. If both the 'client' and 'server' are coroporating then this transfer will happen just fine.

    If however either the 'client' or the 'server' are undercover 'good guys' then they can easilly rat out the other party; who, in the Internet, can eventually be tracked down and served with a lawsuit.

    If you are running software that either requests (a 'client') or distributes (a 'server') information subject to copyrights then the copyright holder or an agent acting on their behalf can bust you, provided that the magic peer-to-peer search leads them to you (or your search leads you to them).

    The only legal questions are whether this constitutes entrapment. If it does the pirates win and copyright law is broken. If it doesn't then the RIAA/MPAA/whoever wins and copyright law is safe.

    All the fancy peer-to-peer protocol magic in the world can't change these basic facts. You don't anonymously receive and send packets on the Internet, you have a designated IP address and that can be followed to you.

    On the other hand a different argument based on 'first principles' makes 'Digital copyright management' schemes such as CSS, HDCP, and Windows media also can't work.

    The end result is that reality is set up to make copyright infringement impossible to stop and also impossible to hide (unless you absolutely trust who you are sharing information with, an unreasonable assumption).

    This is just like the rest of life, breaking the law (murder, terrorism, etc) is VERY easy but getting away with it is VERY hard thus we make the punishment too great to worth the risk. Of course terrorism fails to respond to this formula and thus results in an up-hill battle that no one likes (lack of freedoms, privacy and security), one that eventually is destined to fail terribly.

    • One way to foul this all up- have multiple NAT routers between you and the file server in question.
    • Fancy number theory makes a lot of things possible that would seem intuitively impossible. Check out Freenet [sourceforge.net]. You are making assumptions that aren't always true. For example, let's say you download two seeming random blocks of binary data and XOR them together, and you get the latest hollywood blockbuster. Who is violating copyright in this case?
    • "The only legal questions are whether this constitutes entrapment. If it does the pirates win and copyright law is broken. If it doesn't then the RIAA/MPAA/whoever wins and copyright law is safe. "

      DISCLAIMER: What follows is based on U.S. law. If you are not in the U.S., your laws can and will vary.

      Well, legally, it probably wouldn't be entrapment. Entrapment is actually an incredibly narrow issue -- basically, you have to enticed into doing something you would not normally do. So, if you are looking
    • The only legal questions are whether this constitutes entrapment.

      Here is a definition of entrapment:

      ENTRAPMENT - A person is 'entrapped' when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit; and the law as a matter of policy forbids conviction in such a case.

      However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the Government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportuni
      • Did someone call him up and say "hey dude share some crappy movies? No. Did the cops install bittorrent on his pc and set it up? No. This dude broke the law in his country and is being punished. Whether or not you agree with it is a different story.

        entrap v.
        To lure into performing a previously or otherwise uncontemplated illegal act.

        You raise an interesting point. Bittorrent does not give the end user the option to share or not to share. The software it self shares whatever you happen to be getting b
    • There's a problem with that: RTC v. Netcom. (see Netcom, 907 F. Supp. 1361 (ND Cal 1995))

      If someone can create a filesharing system where traffic is routed from one node to another, and when a node routes it hides the identities of the parties it communicates with, then filesharing becomes safe again.

      Just as in RTC v. Netcom, where the Religious Technology Center (a.k.a. Scientology) attempted to sue Netcom (and was denied), automated acts of routing on a filesharing network will probably be found NOT t
  • Dammit! (Score:3, Funny)

    by FyRE666 (263011) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:09PM (#11353661) Homepage
    I'd nearly finished that download too! Why don't the authorities pick on the torrents with a lot of seeds to give people a chance?...
  • How many pieces? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MicktheMech (697533)
    With Bit-Torrent you upload piece-meal, so if he say only uploaded 1/4 of a movie's worth would he get 1 year? Or did he just upload the tracker? But, that really wouldn't be a copyrighted work, because the file isn't contained in the tracker, right?
  • Copyright infringement, and three counts of extremely bad taste and wasted bandwidth.
  • by sofakingon (610999) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:10PM (#11353669)
    Since when does Hong Kong care about copyright/patent enforcement? The last time I was there I could have gotten a (counterfeit) North Face coat, Rolex watch, and Prada bag, and for about $100US. What gives? 3 movies? I mean, seriously...
  • Is that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:10PM (#11353679)
    4 years for every COPY distributed? Or 4 years for every copy DISTRIBUTED? (IE is he potentially going to jail 12 years for putting up 3 movies or 4 * 1000 thousand downloads?)

  • This is a good day for piracy and IP rights in general.

    This is a bad day for BitTorrent in general.

    I don't think anyone can validly claim that BitTorrent needs to be banned, or that Miss Congeniality needs to go to the public domain.
  • And from their actions, do they even HAVE copyright laws in China?
  • OK, let me be the first to say that I don't usually agree with these kind of arrests but that was way out of line. Did he think somebody was actually going to watch that turd?

    The only thing worse is explaining to friends and family what caused you to get arrested.

    OK, enough cheap humor. This thread's gonaa go downhill fast anyway...I'll just stop now.
  • "Hong Kong authorities have made their first arrest for allegedly " and then later, "The suspect was not immediately charged and investigations are continuing,"

    In Hong Kong, you can be arrested without being charged with anything?!?

    Yo Grark

  • by nganju (821034) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:16PM (#11353749)
    The punishment for distributing Miss Congeniality, legally or illegally, should be death.
  • by jqh1 (212455) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:17PM (#11353758) Homepage
    Don't call it a "BitTorrent Arrest" -- some of my best friends use BitTorrent for perfectly legitimate reasons... It's really an arrest for piracy.
  • Next time, ask someone in North Korea to host sensitive data!
  • ... better placed in the Peer2Peer category. Which ought, of course, to be created first.
  • by TheLittleJetson (669035) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:18PM (#11353773)
    ...$6,400 fine for every copy distributed without copyright owner's permission.

    Luckily, there were no downloads of these fine films.
  • Daredevil (Score:3, Funny)

    by mabu (178417) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:21PM (#11353806)
    If you're distributing Daredevil you deserve to be arrested, piracy or not.
  • by mordx (463323) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:24PM (#11353833)
    The truth is that the Hong Kong street vendors selling pirated copies of movies, software, etc are taking a beating from the people choosing to use P2P methods of obtaining their media. A group of street vendors has taken it upon themselves to turn in every BT user they can identify in the hopes that people will quit using P2P and go back to the street vendors. The cops are rather upset about it to as they get kickbacks from the street vendors which have gotten smaller as well.

    • by AceCaseOR (594637)
      Not to mention the Street Vendors are (or at least were) affiliated with the Triads. Every time someone in Hong Kong downloads a movie, a Triad boss loses money.

      Oh, and by the way, if you ever go to Hong Kong and decid to buy counterfeit clothing, DVDs, or whatever, don't pay with a credit card, or else you'll become part of another classic Triad racket - counterfeit credit cards.

  • The problem has two sides. One, violating another's copyright. Two, movie companies charging a lot for their movies.
  • iWon news (Score:3, Funny)

    by Steffan (126616) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:27PM (#11353880)
    Ironic the link is posted on 'iWon' news. Well, he's certainly going to get a prize...

  • by John Pfeiffer (454131) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:28PM (#11353894) Homepage
    I wonder which this guy feels dumber about, getting arrested for using bittorrent, or getting arrested for distributing crap.

    And, I take it that figure is in USD, correct? 'cause I could probably find that much in HKD in my COUCH. :P
  • Remember, kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummelNO@SPAMjohnhummel.net> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:29PM (#11353903) Homepage
    Bittorrents don't upload copyrighted files - people do.
  • My rights online? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wrexen (151642) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:29PM (#11353906) Homepage
    Can anyone explain to me why it's my right to violate copyright law while on the internet?
    • This case of an individual using BitTorrent for copyright infringement may be used as an excuse to outlaw or otherwise deprive you of your rights to distribute anything on the internet using P2P technology.

      Lets face it, DeCSS was written for lawful uses but the potential for unlawful uses makes it a "piracy tool" in some peoples' minds. Every time BitTorrent is involved in a copyright infringement case, it is another blow to its image, and it makes it that much harder for us to preserve our online rights.
    • by Boronx (228853) <evonreis@@@mohr-engineering...com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @08:09PM (#11354300) Homepage Journal
      Can anyone explain to me why it's their right to hold copyrights in perpetuity?
  • > Hong Kong laws provide for a maximum of 4 years in prison and $6,400 fine for every copy distributed without copyright owner's permission.

    $6,400 Hong Kong dollars which are, like, 2 American.
  • I'd be willing to bet that the Chinese authorities enjoy pirated videos as much as their citizens do, and probably have no real desire to crack down on piracy. This is probably their one token arrest for the year, proving that they're "tough" on piracy... tomorrow it'll be free reign again.

    I heard a rumor that their police sometimes advertise that they're going to crack down on pirated DVDs on a particular day, just so that all the DVD stores know to close their doors (and reopen them once the police hav

  • Thats Nothing. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Viceice (462967) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:34PM (#11353964)
    Arrested? Thats nothing.

    Yesterday, here in Malaysia a pirated VCD seller was shot in the chest with an automatic handgun by enforcement officers. Not only that, this took place in front of an coffeeshop and the slug that exited the VCD seller hit a guy having a meal.

    The VCD seller was unarmed.

    The MPAA ought to be proud of us.

  • For a country that generally ignores foreign patents and IP, this is an unusual move. Markets in major Chinese cities tend to have many vendors hawking ripped/copied/cammed DVD/VCD movies of various quality, audio CD's, and cheap imitations that bear a startling likeness to the real thing (such as the "swiss" watch I'm wearing at this moment).

    Generally police would ignore such activities, so what makes law enforcement so much attention to this particular case?
    • Some of them (the vendors of fake goods) have Mob ties. Is anyone aside from me getting the vibe that this arrest is either:
      1. Really for the swapper's own protection.
      2. To make it easier for the Triads (or similar organization) to find him and in fact he'll never live to stand trial/complete his sentence.
  • Too bad the article is so anemic on details. BitTorrent is a relatively decentralized network. Even if you are running the trackers and watching what everyone is doing, there's any number of people connected in various states of downloading. Why did they decide on this guy, and how did they catch him? Anyone?
  • ...a maximum of 4 years in prison and $6,400 fine for every copy distributed without copyright owner's permission.

    Cop: Let's make a deal, you plead guilty of first degree murder and you get free on parole after 20 years... or else we charge you for these 100 illegally distributed movies and you get 400 years.
  • I remember back in the 1990s, before China took over Hong Kong, that China executed 27 Windows OS pirates by hanging. If China is that draconian in Hong Kong, where people actually have an effect when they complain about the government, what is going on in the rest of the country, out of reach of cushy EurAmerican journalists?
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt.lynx@bc@ca> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @07:54PM (#11354163) Journal
    Bittorrent is as irrellevant to this as the price of the computer it was running on.

    Mentioning it only smacks of propoganda.

  • Uh (Score:3, Funny)

    by vitaflo (20507) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @08:07PM (#11354276) Homepage
    Associated Press says a 38-year-old was arrested in Hong Kong for uploading Daredevil, Red Planet and Miss Congeniality via a BitTorrent client.

    He should have been arrested for his taste in movies.

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