The Criminal Investigation Bureau has shut down what was reportedly the nation’s top video piracy Web site, 8maple.ru (楓林網), and arrested its two alleged proprietors in Taoyuan.
Authorities estimated that the site had infringed on NT$1 billion (US$33.2 million) in copyrights owned by the movie and TV industries.
The crackdown was the result of international cooperation with the US’ Motion Picture Association, Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association, and local TV networks initiating probes and providing authorities with evidence of illegal downloads, bureau officials said.
Photo copied by Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
The site allowed users to download movies and TV shows from Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the US and Europe for free, Telecommunications Investigation Corps section head Chen Juei-chin (陳瑞金) told a media briefing.
“The site was in 2014 started in Taiwan by the two suspects, who have the expertise as they are software engineers,” Chen said. “They made about NT$2 million in monthly revenue from business and service company ads on the site.”
At the start, the two men promoted the site as an online commercial advertising service, but soon turned it into a video piracy site, for which they paid a total of NT$300,000 monthly for 25 servers in five countries — the US, Canada, Ukraine, France and Romania — to avoid investigation and prosecution by Taiwanese authorities, Chen added.
A bureau investigation found that monthly downloads from the site reached about 30 million, while the proprietors made about NT$4 million in advertising revenue.
The site was reportedly Taiwan’s top site for downloading movies and TV shows for free, and was also popular with people in China and other countries, becoming a prominent international piracy site.
The two suspects, surnamed Chen (陳), 33, and Chuang (莊), 32, are friends who were in the same software engineering program and graduated at the top of their class, for which they received scholarships for graduate studies at National Taiwan University, bureau officials said.
Investigators found that the two men had purchased two luxury mansions in Taoyuan, allegedly using their illegal profits from running the site to each pay NT$16 million in cash for the properties.
After weeks of surveillance and collecting evidence, the bureau coordinated with Taoyuan prosecutors and local police to conduct the raid at the end of last month, leading to the arrests of the two suspects, as well as the seizure of their properties and NT$60 million in their bank accounts, bureau officials said.
The officials quoted the two as saying that they started the site because they are both fans of TV dramas and foreign movies, so they decided to put their software expertise to good use in the name of entertainment and profit.
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’: Taipei prosecutors said that cooperation agreements between Taiwan and the Czech Republic grant Czech officials protection against prosecution The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday reaffirmed that it would not charge a Czech official with sexual assault because he is protected by diplomatic immunity. The office released a statement saying it has verified that the man works for the Czech Economic and Cultural Office Taipei’s foreign affairs corps and is thereby protected from criminal prosecution. A foreign graduate student in Taiwan had filed a complaint alleging that the section head of the Czech Economic and Trade Section had sexually assaulted her on April 21 last year. The woman said the Czech official had invited her to his home and then forced her
‘IMMUNITY WANES’: The next wave of infections would likely have fewer cases than previous virus outbreaks, NTU College of Public Health professor Tony Chen said Wearing masks and social distancing should still be recommended in four types of settings, as a COVID-19 wave caused by new Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 might occur in the middle of next month, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. Chen made the comment after the Central Epidemic Command Center announced that people would from today no longer need to wear a mask outside. He suggested that Taiwan implement a double-track method that focuses on select disease prevention measures, such as enhancing immune protection from infection and through vaccination, and self-disease prevention, while other