Piracy battle heats up in Chinese New Year


HONG KONG -- The all-important Chinese New Year boxoffice season has led to a stepping up in the battle against illegal camcording.

The move to stem the flow of illegally distributed new releases over the holiday period was announced Tuesday by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, the Hong Kong Theatre Assn. and the Motion Picture Assn.

"Illegal camcording can cause serious economic damage to the film industry as copies of the movies can be available on the Internet and pirated DVDs within hours of movies opening in theatres," said Sam Ho, MPA director of operations Greater China.

The increased measures include the deployment of plain clothes officers in cinemas, the distribution of anticamcording leaflets and a reward plan that offers HK$2,000 ($256) for theater employees who successfully detect a patron illegally recording a film.

Hong Kong law stipulates that it is illegal to take video recording equipment into a place of public entertainment, an offense that carries a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,410) and up to three years in jail.

"We will continue to work closely with the movie industry and the Theatres Assn. in detecting and interdicting illegal camcording activities," HKCE senior superintendent Ben Ho said.