When it comes to content being made available on file-sharing networks, TV shows have certainly stamped their position as one of the leaders in recent years.
Often enjoying their premiere in the United States, TV shows are illegally downloaded all over the world just minutes after they air, disrupting local licensing and marketing strategies in an instant but giving fans want they want – without the premium price tag.
Until these issues are fully addressed piracy will continue, with dedicated TV show releasing groups happy to fill in the gaps on availability and/or price – until they’re tracked down and stopped of course.
To that end, Hong Kong customs authorities are this morning reporting success in shutting down what they describe as a “well organized cross-border” TV show piracy “syndicate”.
Following an investigation carried out over the past three months, yesterday authorities arrested two men in two areas of the autonomous territory. One, a 25-year-old living in the Southern District, is said to be the group’s founder. Another, a 46-year-old, is being described as a “key member”. A third, said to be the group’s ‘capper‘, is believed to be at large.
According to a government release, four sets of computers were seized and TV shows were discovered stored on the equipment. Overall the group is suspected of distributing around 2,500 shows.
Of interest, however, is that Hong Kong authorities are currently refusing to name the group or their site URL. That’s because the server is located in the United States and at the moment remains fully operational. Nevertheless, the operation is being declared a success.
“This is virtually our first case in which we have discovered such a large quantity of television programs being uploaded to the Internet for downloading,” a Customs officer said.
Under local copyright law anyone distributing an infringing copy of a TV show or other copyright work commits a criminal offense if that negatively affects the copyright owner. The maximum penalty is four years in jail and a fine of around US$6,500 per infringing copy.