BitTorrent user jailed for movie sharing

The first person to be convicted of using BitTorrent to infringe copyright has been sentenced to three months' jail

A Hong Kong citizen has been jailed for three months after sharing three Hollywood movies online over the BitTorrent network, according to reports.

Chan Nai-ming, 38, was sentenced by the Tuen Mun Magistrates Court on Monday. He was convicted on 24 October for distributing three Hollywood blockbusters — Daredevil, Red Planet and Miss Congeniality — over the Internet.

Chan Nai-ming is thought to be the first person to be convicted of copyright infringement using the BitTorrent file-sharing network.

Customs officers arrested Nai-ming in January 2005. He pleaded not guilty to copyright infringement but was convicted after a four-day trial.

Bit Torrent is a popular protocol used to share large files over the Internet using peer-to-peer technology. The original application was written by programmer Bram Cohen and is open source.

The program allows its users to download fragments of a large file from many other users rather than getting the whole file from a single source. BitTorrent has increasingly grown into one of the most widely used means of providing large files for download, including some Linux distributions.

The popularity of file-sharing networks has sparked a clampdown from 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 services could be sued if they encourage users to share copyrighted material without permission.