Chinese jailed for aiding online piracy

Beijing man gets 4 years for selling fake broadcast licenses

BANGKOK -- A Beijing court has sentenced a Chinese man to four years in prison for selling fake licenses to broadcast Hollywood and Korean films online, marking the nation's first such criminal case.

As the number of Chinese online continues to grow -- reaching 298 million by the end of 2008, up 41.9% on the year -- the Internet has become the medium of choice for movie pirates.

The Motion Picture Assn. said Friday that Chinese authorities confirmed that the Beijing Xuanwu District People's Court convicted Yang Jianwei on Monday, fining him 1.5 million yuan ($219,317), which put his company, Jin Hu Dong Network Technology, out of business.

Yang did not lodge an appeal of the court's ruling that, from 2002-07, he digitally converted 460 MPA member company movies without consent as well as a number of Korean films and TV shows, then sold 5,433 fake broadcast licenses to more than 100 companies, Web sites and video-on-demand services, the MPA said in a statement.

"The MPA, along with rights holders from many fields, has been lobbying long and hard for increased criminal prosecutions for copyright infringement," said Mike Ellis, the MPA's Asia Pacific president and managing director. "Well-publicized criminal convictions with deterrent custodial sentences are an essential element of any strategy to discourage piracy and protect the creative industries."

In its last exhaustive study of worldwide piracy in 2005, the MPA estimated that the Hollywood studios lost $6.1 billion, of which about $1.2 billion was due to piracy across the Asia-Pacific region, while piracy in the U.S. accounted for $1.3 billion.