BitTorrent user convicted over movie sharing

A man who used BitTorrent to distribute three films has been convicted of infringing copyright

A Hong Kong man has been convicted of copyright infringement for using the BitTorrent service to share firms, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Chan Nai-Ming was found guilty of distributing three Hollywood films using BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file sharing technology, according to Taiwanese English-language newspaper The China Post.

The unemployed 38 year old used the software to distribute the copyrighted films — "Miss Congeniality", "Daredevil" and "Red Planet". He was arrested by customs officers in January 2005.

Nai-Ming pleaded not guilty to copyright infringement but was convicted after a four day trial. He will be sentenced on 7 November, 2005.

BitTorrent is one of the most popular software programs used to acquire large files over the Internet using peer-to-peer file sharing technology. The application was initially written by programmer Bram Cohen and is open source.

BitTorrent allows its users to download fragments of a large file from many other users, rather than just one. BitTorrent had relied on centralised tracker files to manage this process, but in May this year Cohen announced that they were no longer needed. BitTorrent has increasingly become a distribution channel for spyware and adware and has grown into one of the most widely used means of providing large files for download.

File sharing networks are coming under increasing pressure from the law, while increasing traffic has sparked a clampdown by recording companies and movie studios which have sued thousands of peer to peer users for copyright infringement over the past few years. The US Supreme Court ruled in June 2005 that peer-to-peer makers could be sued if they encourage users to copy material without permission.