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BitTorrent Pirate Loses His Last Appeal 244

Posted by Zonk
from the no-more-second-chances dept.
Vix666 writes with a link to a ZDNet article on the final chapter of a story we've discussed before: the first user convicted of piracy for using BitTorrent to download a movie has really, finally, lost his case. Chan Nai-ming was sentenced in November of 2005, lost an appeal in December of last year, and appears to have once again failed to convince a judge to let him out. "The Hong Kong government welcomed the judgment, saying it clarified the law regarding Internet piracy. 'This judgment has confirmed that it commits a crime and violates copyright laws for the act of using (BitTorrent) software to upload and distribute,' said customs official Tam Yiu-keung in a written statement. He added the judgment would have a deterrent effect, a view endorsed by industry watchdogs such as the Hong Kong branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry."
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BitTorrent Pirate Loses His Last Appeal

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  • by brxndxn (461473) on Friday May 18, 2007 @08:58PM (#19186971)
    How about the death penalty for downloading mp3s? Also, we should definitely kill the family members of people that download movies illegally.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:39PM (#19187261)
      And since we know how well the death penality worked as a determent for murder...

      Seriously, it does not matter at all what's the threat when you get caught. Whether it's just a slap on the wrist and probation or death by hanging, the people committing this "crime" are not ghetto gang members who don't care about another sheet in their file. They're usually normal, law abiding people who have fairly normal jobs or, if younger, go to school or college, often rather good schools or colleges, and plan to have a normal life with a normal job.

      When you criminalize those people, all you get is a criminal who wouldn't have been one. Because what's the next thing happening? He's got a file, he's on probation, he probably won't get a good job. What is he gonna do? Commit more crimes. And since he's a criminal already anyway, why not break a real law? Does it matter?

      When you go to jail for longer for copyright infringment than for robbery, do you think people who already got jail time for copying would care about what's happening when they sap that old lady to get her purse? Hey, it's a lesser crime, he's getting better!

      Folks, something's running REALLY wrong here. With laws like this, we create more criminals but not more faith in the laws.

      Why do people usually not murder or steal, rob a bank or kick old nannies off the curb? Because you simply don't do that! Do you really think about the possible jail sentence when you decide NOT to roll your car over that asshole who just gave you the proverbial finger? No, you don't kill him because that's simply something you don't do.

      Because, quite frankly, if the law's the only thing that keeps you from going on a killing spree, something's very wrong with you!

      People usually abide to the law not because they fear jail, but because of their moral code. Why are there more people speeding than shoplifting? The sentence for either is about the same (for a first time violation) here, still, we have a ton of speeders and rather few shoplifters, compared to it. Why? Because one is negligance and the other is stealing.

      And you simply don't steal.

      The danger I see is that people get used to breaking the law. When you simply continue what you have been doing for years and suddenly it becomes a crime, will you stop or will you ignore the law? And when you ignore one law, how far is it to ignoring the law altogether and just relying on your code of morals?

      Will your morals stay the same? Or will you question them as well? Will you start wondering whether not only the law but also the morals you have been brought up with are wrong?

      Scary, if you ask me.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        In general I would be inclined to agree with you. In countries where the piracy rates are lower and it is not as easy to buy or procure full quality replacements for the original store bought discs I would agree.

        Yes, it really isn't stealing, but that really doesn't mean that it shouldn't be illegal. In countries like the US where for the most part piracy is pretty low, making it illegal is almost entirely counterproductive. In countries like China making it illegal is probably the only way that there is go
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Unless it has changed drastically in the last couple of years, Hong Kong is a place where it is often times easier to get an illegal bootleg of a movie or album than it is to get a legitimate copy of it from a store.

          Rubbish. I live in Hong Kong. Bootleg media have always been around, but there are legit music and DVD shops in every shopping mall. Bootleg shops were concentrated in a few areas, and temporary street stalls, but there are perhaps a fewe dozen outlets in the whole territory at any time, under

          • The reason for "real" stealing being punished less severely is simple. "Real" theft hits the store, not the content industry. Quite the opposite, real theft actually aids the content industry, since they have sold their CD. To the store.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by flyingsquid (813711)
          Yes, it really isn't stealing, but that really doesn't mean that it shouldn't be illegal. In countries like the US where for the most part piracy is pretty low, making it illegal is almost entirely counterproductive. In countries like China making it illegal is probably the only way that there is going to be progress on getting people to actually purchase the media that they are wanting to have.

          This case is just a joke. The dude is a sacrificial lamb to help convince American media interests that China i

      • by Rojo^ (78973) * on Friday May 18, 2007 @11:39PM (#19187943) Homepage Journal

        When you go to jail for longer for copyright infringment than for robbery, do you think people who already got jail time for copying would care about what's happening when they sap that old lady to get her purse? Hey, it's a lesser crime, he's getting better!

        It's not a lesser crime. It's just a crime with fewer corporate-funded lobbyists pushing for disproportionate punishment. Your sig is probably unintentionally but ironically relevant to this discussion.

        In Soviet Russia, the government controls the commerce.
        • That was sarcasm, you insensitive... :)

          And yes, the sig is intentional. The punchline is in the "in capitalist america" line the reader should add by himself. I like jokes that require the reader to think a bit. Thanks for getting it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why do people usually not murder or steal, rob a bank or kick old nannies off the curb? Because you simply don't do that!

        The reason is that society has had years of conditioning that tell us these actions are wrong. We don't do these things because we decided a long time ago that we didn't want that in our society, that our society would be better off without such actions happening, We then solidified that into written law. The pro-copyright lobby is trying to do the same thing with piracy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          And that doesn't work, writing laws before common consensus supports them. A law that is resisted by the majority of people will be ignored.

          The only way to enforce a resisted law is by brute force. And behond, we're heading that way. That doesn't lead to more law and more support for the law. Rather, it breeds resistance, not only against this single law but against the whole legal apparatus.
      • by EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Saturday May 19, 2007 @03:04AM (#19188807) Homepage

        Copyright infringement is a economic crime. So, the punishment should be of an economic nature --- a fine. No reason to put anything in his criminal record either. For downloading, I suggest 2*(price of movie at time)/(chance of discovery). For uploading, I'd suggest a very similar amount... the damagde to the "victim" is greater, yet his personal gain is less. So, same fine.

        • You are aware that this would mean the fine is limitless? I.e. about what it is now, with content companies claiming for insane damages.

          Simply becaus the chance of discovery is very close to zero.
        • by mpe (36238)
          Copyright infringement is a economic crime. So, the punishment should be of an economic nature --- a fine.

          The problem is that often when this is done the monetary value claimed is far in excess of even the retail price of the "content" involved. You only have to look at the RIAA threats to sue people...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by boteeka (970303)

          I agree with you.

          But let us just do a little comparison here.

          Let's say a guy with a decent job in America (the US) is downloading movies using BitTorrent software. The thing is that this way he gets the movie for free, he only pays for internet connection, which he would pay already. A recent movie release in the US is something between $10 and $40 (I'm not a US citizen, so I looked at WalMart's prices). What is the average monthly sallary for an average guy? $2500 to $5000? http://www.worldsalaries.org [worldsalaries.org]

      • by asninn (1071320)
        You've got a couple of very good points, but, pray, why is questioning and reevaluating your morals a "scary" thing? You seem to be under the assumption that everyone who does so will automatically turn into some sort of super-villain (OK, I'm exaggerating a bit there), but I frankly don't see that.
        • Mostly 'cause I know human nature pretty well.

          Currently, I live kinda secure. I've spent over 10 years in our capital now and never got robbed, never even got threatened, and I'd love it to stay that way without our country turning into a police state.

          If people start questioning whether it's really a problem to flick out a knife or worse to increase their income, others will cry for tighter laws and higher fines, for more video cams on our streets and for less strict privacy.

          And our politicians would be all
      • by fyoder (857358)

        Will your morals stay the same? Or will you question them as well? Will you start wondering whether not only the law but also the morals you have been brought up with are wrong?

        We're going to have to make a clear distinction and maintain our morals while the social contract crumbles and law loses any vestige of moral authority. It will be important to clearly define the enemy (government and corporations) and distinguish them from regular people. As the law becomes a joke, so does the precedent established that corporations have the same rights as persons. Basically, be good to actual persons, but screw the corporate greedheads and their bought and paid for government lackeys

        • The question is how many will see through it and heed that, and how many will not discriminate and just go "fuck the law, it's against me, so I don't have to heed it at all". How many will blame government and corporations, and how many will blame "society"?
      • by westlake (615356)
        When you go to jail for longer for copyright infringment than for robbery

        You don't.

        In the U.S. robbery and assault are almost always prosecuted under state [local] law. When the feds do have jurisdiction in such cases, the hammer comes down. Bureau of Prisons - Quick Facts [bop.gov]

        If your contributions to the P2P nets ends in prosecution it will be for one very simple reason:

        You were an arrogant litle prick who thought that geek-hood was a lifetime "get out of jail free" card. 50th Conviction Landed in Piracy [csoonline.com]

  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:08PM (#19187045) Journal
    the punishment seems a bit extreme for one movie but where do they draw the line? what do you do when people simply dont intend to pay for something that took alot of cash to make to begin with- especially when every protection scheme fails horribly? make better movies? how exactly does that solve the problem of people in effect stealing movies? [if thats the case why are pirates getting the crappiest movies?]
    • by Hao Wu (652581)
      If they lose money by making movies, then they made a foolish investment.

      Stop making movies if it costs too much. Nobody is entitled to guaranteed profit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Your logic also backfires.

        Nobody is entitled to someone else's hard work for free.
        • by Hao Wu (652581)
          No business on earth survives on "the honor system".

          They were fools to produce something they knew (or should have known) would be copied by millions.

          • And you're a fool for having glass windows, I may just steal your TV tomorrow.
            • by Hao Wu (652581)
              Glass windows are a suitable barrier in most places. But if I leave my door unlocked, there is a very good reason that insurance won't pay me for anything you steal.
              • You're trying to weasel out of your own point. If I -can- do it then by gum I will. Your fault if you have glass windows instead of steel shutters.
                • You're trying to weasel out of your own point. If I -can- do it then by gum I will. Your fault if you have glass windows instead of steel shutters.
                  The US Constitution guarantees the natural right of freedom of expression. Theft of real property is not a natural right.
                  • Re:wtf (Score:5, Informative)

                    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday May 18, 2007 @10:19PM (#19187493) Journal
                    The story is about a guy in HONG KONG. Hiding behind the US Consitituion does you no favours in this debate.

                    Will Americans PLEASE get it into their heads that NATIONAL LAWS ARE NOT INTERNATIONAL.
                    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                      Hiding behind the US Consitituion does you no favours in this debate.
                      Will Americans PLEASE get it into their heads that NATIONAL LAWS ARE NOT INTERNATIONAL.
                      Oh grow up. Freedom of expression is at least officially recognized by just about every government in the world. China was even one of the 8 countries on the drafting committee for the universal declaration of human rights which (obviously) includes the freedom of expression and does not include copyright.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by etymxris (121288)
          "Hard work" isn't something that can be stolen except through slavery or fraud. You're probably talking about the fruits of hard work, in which case there would be plenty of exceptions to your statement. Modern science and mathematics were built on the labors of many, and yet the fruits of these labors cannot be owned.

          Hard work, by itself, guarantees nothing. I can spend thousands of hours building model planes, grinding through MMPORGS, or trying to woo a crush, only to be left with little or nothing to sh
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Arterion (941661)
          How about I send them a penny in the mail for the work? Then it's not for free. I say that because I think many feel that, relatively speaking, that's how big business collectively compensates the hard work of peons. And I do mean hard work. Like, back-breaking work. I don't really think that sitting back and making money simply by investing is "hard work", but the richest people get by just by doing that.

          I think of more people had more disposable income, they'd see more sales. I think that Johnny Mi
        • http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/499_US _ 340.htm [cornell.edu]

          This was already ruled upon in the US Supreme court. Feist vs Rural Telephone Company (over a telephone book). They rejected any argument that right t of control (copyright) would be granted based on 'sweat of the brow' or the hard work in creating an uncreative or unorigional work.

          They explicitly said that creativity is required to grant copyright. As alphabetizing names and putting them into a book is not creative, the result was not copyrightable,
        • Why not? No one should be able to compel another to do work, but if work is done, why shouldn't other people enjoy the benefits of it?

          For example, suppose that Alice and Bob are neighbors. Alice plants a wonderful garden, which causes property rates to rise. As a result, Bob benefits from Alice's work, and Alice is not entitled to get Bob to compensate her.
        • Nobody is entitled to someone else's hard work for free.

          Right, no one is entitled to force an information producer to hand over his or her work for free. However, what two other individuals do privately between themselves, including exchanging information, is nobody's business but their own, unless we abandon the concept of a right to privacy.

        • Then don't work so hard.

          People should work hard when they're already getting paid for it. Working hard first and expecting to get paid later is ass-backwards: it's called speculation and there's no reason it should be rewarded.

        • by bky1701 (979071)
          The only thing that entitles you to control an idea is a law not all too old. You stated "entitled", you recently became "not entitled". Just because you work on something doesn't mean you get to control it - that idea is simply a creation of modern law.
        • Ah, so I have to pay Newton's and Leibniz's children to use calculus, right? And pay Shakespeare's descendants to put on a rendition of Romeo and Juliet?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goombah99 (560566)
      He did not own the right to distribute the film. That right is available and he could have purchased it. Instead he stole them. Why is this difficult to understand?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      what do you do when people simply dont intend to pay for something that took alot of cash to make to begin with

      Work only on commission. That way you get paid before it is possible to "pirate" the creation. The internet is great at distributing information in the form of media, it ought to be great at distributing information in the form of debts too, making the pooling of commissions by groups of millions of patrons feasible to pay for even the most crazy expensive productions.

      • by goombah99 (560566)

        Work only on commission. That way you get paid before it is possible to "pirate" the creation.

        Hey I'm so glad you have agreed to commission my upcoming movie. What's your paypal ID?

        • Hey I'm so glad you have agreed to commission my upcoming movie. What's your paypal ID?
          Just like any other artist working on commission, you have to sell your customer on the idea.

          Let's hear your sales pitch - what's the plotline, who do you expect to star and direct, who is the writer, do you have examples of previous productions? If your pitch is good enough I'll paypal $10 to your escrow account.
      • by cliffski (65094)
        absolutely everyone thought that sim city would be shit. will wright had to start his own company to make the game, because everyone thought he was mad. yet its a hugely popular and successful game. Most true genius and innovation occurs in direct opposition to the prevailing culture. If you ask the general public what they want, they will answer "more of the same". offer them something innovative and good, and they often incorporate that into what they want next. Nobody was clamouring for 'the matrix', but
    • He wasn't convicted for downloading a movie.

      He was convicted for distributing three movies. And his term was only three months, which is not at all extreme, IMO. You can get 6 months for traffic violations in many jurisdictions.
    • by Instine (963303)
      Open source entertainment.

      Not that long ago in human terms (or far away, in geographical), we, humans, made/make entertainment for entertainment's sake.

      Movies today are made to sell toys. Actually, more precisely, to make money. More specific still, to make ritch people more money.

      Faulty Towers is not selling anything, it has no major agendum deyond making paople laugh. While it specifically might not be your cup of tea, there's probably something similar that is. So I'm not suggesting we sit round
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:13PM (#19187075) Homepage Journal
    Chan had posted a message inviting BitTorrent users to download a movie on an Internet movie forum called "bt.movie.hk" using his "Big Crook" alias.

    Thats similar to the motorbike guy who gave loads of speed cameras the bird because he thought he was safe.
    Had it just occurred quietly no-one would have batted an eyelid.
  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BalaClavaChord (686030) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:16PM (#19187099)
    aXXo is that u?

    Please tell me your ok!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:20PM (#19187115)
    the first user convicted of piracy for using BitTorrent to download a movie has really, finally, lost his case.

    No, he could have used any other protocol. He was not convicted for using Bittorrent to do anything. He was convicted for uploading a movie without having a license to do so.
    • by aj50 (789101)
      But it's important because it shows that lawfully, bittorrent's uploading counts as distribution so you could be charged in the same way as a site hosting movies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      He was convicted for uploading a movie without having a license to do so. No, his big problem was redistribution: he uploaded while feeding other bittorrent clients, therefore falling into a more severe legal category.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:23PM (#19187139) Journal
    This comes a week after Australia extradited to the US an Australian Citizen who never stepped foot in the US for a similar offense [theage.com.au]. Australia's excuse is it's sycophantic Prime Minister it'll do anything the US Government tells it to. What's China's Excuse?

    (Sadly) this isn't the Chinese government kissing American butt. They've got some "bad" [cnn.com] publicity [reuters.com] last week, so this poor sap is being made an example of.

    Meanwhile the RIAA and MPAA continue to lie [ornery.org], cheat [ornery.org] and steal [wikipedia.org] with politicans at their bidding [wikipedia.org] (that's the DMCA Congressman).

    • by erbmjw (903229)
      Hong Kong is not Mainland China!

      It is a Special Administrative Region that has it's own law separate laws and judicial system.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong [wikipedia.org]
      • I know that. I think everbody knows that: It was a bit hard to miss the handover ceremony!

        The perception in the West (rightly or wrongly) is that Mainland China pulls the strings in Hong Kong: Nothing happens without their blessing, and given the US beat up China on Piracy last week, the verdict would have to be welcomed by the Communist Party.
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          The perception in the West (rightly or wrongly) is that Mainland China pulls the strings in Hong Kong: Nothing happens without their blessing

          Beijing has overruled HK court judgements a few times since the handover, in relation to cases trying to extend voting rights. There were large and noisy protests at his, it's not something that they do regularly. They have no interest in small time criminal matters like this.

          HK has its own version of the RIAA that lobbies for copyright enforcement. They're corpor

          • Thanks for an interesting perspective. For once it seems, we can't blame the damned Commies! :-)

            With all those RIAA Shills with so many branches in so many countries, do they hold Annual Shill Conventions in the Bahamas or something?
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      What's China's Excuse? (Sadly) this isn't the Chinese government kissing American butt. They've got some "bad" publicity last week, so this poor sap is being made an example of.

      This was in Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system to China. As for the timing, it's been working its way through the court for years, he was convicted and sentenced in 2005, this report is of his appeal being rejected. The case was pushed by our local branch of the IFPA and HK Customs, which enforces copyright. They certainl

    • by jez9999 (618189)
      They've got some "bad" [cnn.com] publicity [reuters.com] last week

      Wow, it was so bad they've managed to get it removed from both the sites you linked!
  • ...wouldn't abandoning copyright law entirely ultimately have greater good than what we have now? There are abundant examples that creativity and innovation are not absent where there is not a motive of profit. If I had a machine that could copy food endlessly with no more work than bringing a bowl to it, would I not be acting immorally to demand as much payment as I could for it and restrict the creation of such a machine by anyone else? The 'right' to property, including ideas and other intangibles as
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That's a very touching post, it is, but the mafiaa isn't restricting people's access to fire or food, they're restricting access to something that is made entirely for entertainment. The immorality of withholding free food is that a lot of people don't have enough of it. If you restrict access to Seinfeld episodes, there's not a single person who's life will end.

      If you're going to oppose something, oppose patent laws which actually influence what medications and life saving devices people have access to.
      • by Shados (741919)
        Seinfeld, yeah.

        If someone was to restrict access to Heroes episodes though, I definately WOULD die.
    • Said like somebody who doesn't get paid to make content.
  • What!??! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tellarin (444097) on Friday May 18, 2007 @09:51PM (#19187345) Homepage Journal
    Man, at first I read the end of the summary as "the International Federation of the Pornographic Industry".

    Well, somehow that would make sense as they are fu*%$ this guy. :(
  • by Rojo^ (78973) *
    If you're in the United States and ever have to sit on a jury for one of these Internet piracy trials, I hope you'll do your best to portray impartiality in the jury panel interviews, then convince the other jurors of a verdict of "not guilty."

    Our founding forefathers intended the jury to be the last line of defense against a tyrannical government. Take for instance prohibition. In the early 20th century, alcohol was illegal. However, because no jury would convict those on trial for violating prohibition
    • by jez9999 (618189)
      You sure about that? Juries are meant to decide whether somebody is in violation of a certain law, now whether the law is an ass. The reason they're made up of common people is to make sure that that decision is fair (haha, like nobody has prejudices!), not that the law itself is sensible.
      • by fnj (64210)

        You sure about that? Juries are meant to decide whether somebody is in violation of a certain law, [not] whether the law is an ass.

        (This post is USA centric because I live there. Your country may differ) Call it a a side benefit. A jury's decision per se is held to be not subject to further recourse for any reason (short of a flaw in the trial such as jury tampering). This is the basis for what is called "jury nullification". The judge may "instruct" the jury, but there is no mechanism to compel them to

  • China's economy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HaMMeReD3 (891549) on Saturday May 19, 2007 @12:28AM (#19188195)
    This is just a joke, sure 1 person loses most of his life so china can make an example to the world that "oh we care about piracy". They are a communist nation and as such have sacrificed one life so they can pretend like they care.

    Uhhh, yeah, sure, uh huh, china cares about piracy?????

    If anything china is the one country on this planet that in general has no respect for any copyright laws of any other nation. Hell, they will pirate anything. You invent and patent invention a (NOT SOFTWARE), the chinese will steal it, remake it out of the cheapest and crappiest components possible and try their hardest to undersell you, effectively causing you, the inventor/artist/producer major damages. What legal repercussions do you have? Don't look at me, I have no clue.

    We pirate movies freely in america, in china you pay for pirate copies of movies in retail stores.

    Although there are ethical rules against being a pirate, a pirate must also have a code of ethics, and reselling is against that code. They aren't even to be called pirates from now, they do not deserve the honor with the title, from now on chinese pirates are to be known only as software thieves.
  • I wonder how they're gonna build all those prisons?

    Ah, YES. We ARE in prison. Everyone on probation or life arrest, GPS phone tracked, huge fines paid every month for the rest of their lives, rest of the money for lawyers and government monitoring fees. You status as a criminal or non-criminal is just a boolean assignment. They don't need to lock you up. They merely need to change the intensity of the monitoring already you live with. Keep you from ever working a real job again. Keep you from voting, ever a
  • In the UK, this case cost the taxpayer £18.4m [icnetwork.co.uk]. All to prosecute a gang who made precisely £0 from their activities.

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