Seven people jailed in China's first online copyright lawsuit

In the country’s first sentencing on internet copyright infringement, a Beijing court on Thursday jailed seven executives of the Chinese movie downloading website

Zhou Zhiquan, CEO of the movie downloading website, was sentenced five years imprisonment for copyright infringement, and a fine of 1 million yuan (US$160,000).

Zhou's other six co-workers were sentenced in jail from one to three years, according to a Sina news report, which called the judgment "the first one ever" dealing with the country's online copyright infringement. was deemed as the country’s largest illegal high-definition movie downloading website, providing tens of thousands of high-definition Blu-ray movies as well videos and television programs. Its registered members had once exceeded 1.4 million.

However, in a crackdown in late April of 2013 , when it was also the 13th World Intellectual Property Day, the Chinese police shut down the site and detained CEO and over 30 other employees for suspicion of infringing IP rights.

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The Beijing court found that Zhou and other site executives uploaded genuine movie and programs to the website, making huge profits by charging membership fees from the users. had infringed a total 22,296 works, including 18,772 films and television dramas, 3,316 musical albums and 208 game software.  Its online members reached more than 10,000 a day, and daily downloads exceeded 6,000 times.

Advertising revenue on the site could reach between 2 million to 3 million yuan a year.

Website operators had also burned over 4,000 copyrighted movies into discs and sold at their online Taobao shops, according to the court.

As the principal Zhou pleaded not guilty, he received more severe punishment in the sentence. Other website executives who admitted their violations and showed "good attitude" received lighter punishment in the case.