Studios snag Australian piracy victory

In what is believed to be the first copyright case heard by a jury in Australia, a Sydney store owner is convicted of 15 offenses.

The local arms of film and music studios have claimed a victory in their war against copyright offences, with a Sydney man convicted for selling pirated content last week.

Yong Hong Lin, the owner of an Eastwood, Sydney music and movie store was found guilty of 15 copyright offences in Sydney's District Court on 21 May, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) wrote in a statement distributed on Monday. Lin will be sentenced on August 21.

However, Lin's jury acquitted him of 16 of the 31 offences he was initially charged with.

Police had raided Lin's facility on February 27, 2007, finding more than 16,000 pirated music and movie discs being offered for sale, alleged AFACT and MIPI. Some of the discs were allegedly imported from China, and some burnt locally.

AFACT and MIPI said the charges were the "first copyright matters to proceed on indictment and be heard before a jury" in Australia. "Mr Lin has been judged by 12 of his fellow Australians and they have found his conduct to be criminal; now he must accept the consequences," said MIPI investigations manager Dean Mitchell.

AFACT director of operations Neil Gane said pirates should be in "no doubt" that what he called their criminal actions would be thoroughly investigated, shut down by police, and judged in court.

The copyright duo said criminal penalties for copyright infringement were up to US$60,500 and five years imprisonment per offence for individuals, and up to US$302,500 for corporations.