Hong Kong Cracks Down on Pirated Karaoke Ventures
Hong Kong Customs reported on Wednesday the conclusion of an eight-day operation against the sale of illicitly sold karaoke players and pirated music.
The operation - codenamed “Magpie” - which ran from Dec. 2 to Dec. 9, also sought to investigate party rooms that undermined health and safety regulations meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A series of raids on party rooms and shops led to the seizure of 147 karaoke players as well as six video game consoles suspected of containing pirated songs and electronic games.
Subsequently, 23 individuals were arrested in the course of the operation, including ten believed to be in charge of running the party rooms, as well as multiple patrons who violated the island’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
Authorities estimate that the total market value of the seized goods stands at HK$1.3 million (US$166,576).
The operation began when customs agents received information that suggested karaoke machines were being sold with preloaded songs without their respective copyright owners’ prior authorization.
Customs agents thus carried out a series of raids on eight shops and a storehouse on December 2, seizing 110 karaoke players worth an estimated HK$600,000 ($76,887) that each had approximately 40,000 to 65,000 suspected pirated songs preloaded onto them.
Reportedly, 11 individuals between the ages of 22 and 60 were arrested on suspicion of violating Hong Kong’s copyright laws.
Information obtained through the copyright owners led police to raid an additional 30 party rooms between Dec. 6 to Dec. 9.
These businesses were also suspected of profiting off of karaoke machines and video game consoles with pirated material on them.
A total of 37 karaoke machines and eight video consoles were seized from the party rooms. The machines had an estimated market value of HK$700,000 ($89,702.27).
Another 12 individuals were arrested as a result of the raids, among them ten persons believed to be in charge of managing the party rooms’ operations.
Reportedly, seven patrons were also issued notices for having violated the island’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
Under Hong Kong’s copyright laws, any person or commercial establishment that sells, or possesses for sale, any infringing items may face a penalty of up to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,407) per infringing copy.
The maximum financial penalty for selling a karaoke machine with 40,000 to 65,000 pirated songs on it would thus be between HK$2,000,000,000 ($256,290,600) and HK$3,250,000,000 ($416,466,440).