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Man Gets Three Months for Uploading Movies

A Hong Kong man on Monday was sentenced to three months in prison in what local officials say is the world's first successful prosecution of copyright violation using the popular file-sharing software BitTorrent (search).

Chan Nai-ming (search), 38, who called himself "Big Crook" on the Internet, was earlier convicted of illegally uploading three Hollywood films, "Daredevil," "Red Planet" and "Miss Congeniality," onto a Web site so that others could obtain them.

Chan is the first person in the world to be convicted and jailed for illegal online sharing of copyrighted material using the BitTorrent software, said customs spokeswoman Glenis Liong.

The software allows computer users share large chunks of data in a speedy way. But movie and music industries say the illegal online sharing of files causes them losses of millions of dollars a year.

Chan was found guilty last month of three counts of attempting to distribute copyrighted material without authorization.

Chan filed for an appeal following his sentencing and was granted bail of 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$641), said Judiciary spokeswoman Jaime Or.

Magistrate Colin Mackintosh (search) said Chan's act greatly hurt the interest of the copyrighted material's owner although he did not make any profit from uploading the movies onto the Internet.

"The message has to be sent out by courts that the distribution of infringing copies, to the prejudice of copyright owners, particularly by seeding films onto the Internet, will not be treated leniently," Mackintosh wrote in his judgment.

"A sentence of imprisonment is imperative. There is no basis for suspending such a sentence," he said.

Because of its speed, BitTorrent steadily gained in popularity after the recording industry began cracking down on users of Kazaa (search), Morpheus (search), Grokster (search) and other established file-sharing software.