Party over in Karaoke, gaming raids
Customs officers seized 147 karaoke players and six gaming consoles and arrested 22 people in a crackdown on sales and use of copyright-infringing karaoke players and songs across shops and party rooms.
The karaoke players and gaming consoles, worth HK$1.3 million in total, contain pirated songs and electronic games.
The 22 suspects - 20 men and two women aged between 20 and 60 - were held for contravening the Copyright Ordinance in Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay in an eight-day operation code-named "Magpie" from December 2 to 9. They have been released on bail pending investigation.
Among them are four owners and six operators of shops and a storehouse, as well as 10 persons in charge and two staff members of dozens of party rooms.
Two of the 10 in charge of the party rooms, both male, along with seven female patrons were slapped with HK$5,000 fixed penalty tickets for violating infection-control regulations. A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said officers earlier received a tip-off about karaoke players with bootleged songs being put up for sale at a high price in some shops across the city.
Following an in-depth investigation and assistance from the songs' copyright owners, customs officers first raided eight shops and a storehouse in Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok and Wan Chai on December 2, he said.
"A total of 110 karaoke players with an estimated market value of HK$600,000 were seized," he said.
"Each karaoke player was preloaded with 40,000 to 65,000 suspected infringing songs and sold at prices ranging from HK$2,000 to HK$13,000."
The spokesman said further raids were conducted with police between December 6 and 9 on 30 party rooms that were suspected of possessing and offering infringing karaoke songs to patrons in Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay.
"Customs officers seized 37 karaoke players used for playing suspected infringing songs and six sets of game consoles with suspected pirated electronic games during the inspections," he said.
"The total estimated market value was about HK$700,000." He warned that business operators were liable under the Copyright Ordinance, adding that it was a severe crime to sell, keep or use infringing items for business purposes.
"Under the Copyright Ordinance, any person who sells or possesses for sale any infringing items, or any commercial establishment using infringing musical recordings, music-video recordings, movies, TV dramas or computer programs in the course of their business, commits an offence.
"The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of HK$50,000 per infringing copy and imprisonment for four years."