BitTorrent User Convicted of Piracy

A 38 year-old man from Hong Kong has become the first person convicted for sharing copyrighted material over BitTorrent. Chan Nai-Ming used the P2P technology, which requires you to distribute what you are downloading, to share Hollywood films "Daredevil," "Red Planet" and "Miss Congeniality."

Nai-Ming was arrested last January and pled not guilty to the charges of copyright infringement. He was convicted after a four-day trial and released on bail until a sentencing hearing scheduled for November 7. Nai-Ming could face as much as four years in jail and a fine for his actions.

In a statement to local media, the Hong Kong government praised the ruling and said it was the first step to cracking down on illicit P2P usage in the country. Customs officials claimed that since the arrest, file sharing had dropped by a whopping 80 percent.

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BitTorrent the company -- founded by computer programmer Bram Cohen who designed the technology -- recently secured $8.75 million in funding, but faces an uphill battle to shed its pirate image. The technology is currently used almost exclusively for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material by end users.

BitTorrent itself is not the culprit, however. It is simply a communication protocol that facilitates efficient distribution of very large files. On the flipside, it is not uncommon for those particular files to be copyrighted music, movies or television shows.

This spring, the entertainment industry joined federal agencies in cracking down on illicit file sharing occurring on Web sites used as "trackers" to aggregate BitTorrent files.

Sweden, notorious for its lax copyright laws, also reported its own anti-piracy milestone Tuesday. A Swedish court ordered a man to pay the equivalent of $2,000 for using a P2P network to distribute a movie online. Officials called the ruling "a very big step forward" that "sends a very strong signal to file sharers."

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