Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 18) conducted an operation against shops selling illegally modified electronic game consoles using new technique which enabled customers to play pirated electronic games.
Customs officers from the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau and Special Task Force yesterday raided 21 shops, including 13 shops in Sham Shui Po, four in Mong Kok and four in Wan Chai, with a total seizure of 103 modified electronic game consoles and 316 pirated optical discs, worth more than $200,000. It is the biggest seizure ever detected of the similar operations. During the operation, 21 men and 5 women, including 6 shops proprietors and 20 shop assistants aged between 18 and 61, were arrested. They are on bail pending further investigations.
In an in-depth investigation, Customs found that a new technique was being used by some shops to modify illegally the game consoles. Instead of putting circumvented devices in the electronic game consoles, software programme of the game consoles were modified or intervened so that pirated electronic games could be read.
The Customs officers, posing as the customers, went to the shops to buy the game consoles and immediately took enforcement action. The success of the operation against the sale activities involving circumvention devices and provision of circumvention services was attributed to the full support given by the concerned copyright owner.
Speaking at a press conference today (November 19), Divisional Commander (Copyright), Ms Catherine Yip, said that Customs would continue to take stringent action against shops selling illegally modified electronic game consoles with the advent of the seasonal festive which was a high time for shopping.
Ms Yip reminded shop owners not to take part in the illegal activities of selling game consoles with circumvented devices. She also urged members of public to respect intellectual copyright and not to buy modified electronic game consoles or pirated electronic games.
According to the section on criminal liability for circumvention of effective technological measures under the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2007, a person commits an offence if he makes, imports or exports circumvention devices for sale or hire; sells such devices; or provides circumvention service for business purposes. The maximum penalty is four years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000.
The public should report any suspected copyright infringing activities to the Customs and Excise Department by calling its 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.