Chinese Police Crack Biggest Case of Online Piracy

Chinese authorities have cracked the largest ever case in China involving online film and TV series piracy, according to Xinhua (in Chinese). The perpetrators made over RMB 8 million in revenues from illegally displaying advertising to users, running off servers across China. The announcement comes as US President Donal Trump has said he will wait a week before starting trade investigations into China on intellectual property violations.

The case involved a website called Xunbo Yingyuan (迅播影院, which translates roughly as “Express Cinema”) which made movies and TV series available to stream or download, without having the authority to do so—34,835 titles, to be precise—the most in any such case in China.

Screenshot: Homepage of Xunbo Yingyuan

The case has been brought in Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province after multiple intellectual property owners reported the site. Universal Pictures, Bona Film Group, and Tencent Pictures which own the rights to titles available through the site such as Operation Mekong, Furious 7 and Love O2O, a TV series, approached the police in October last year.

In November, police operations across the country resulted in seizures of equipment in Changsha, Xiamen, and Guangzhou plus three arrests. Bank accounts were frozen and 18 servers were found, with running costs of RMB 28,000 per month (in Chinese).

The case is being described as proof of the successful multi-agency teamwork in China as it has straddled the Public Security Bureau, National Copyright Association and the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

Three suspects have been detained and the case continues.

News of the case comes as Chinese blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2 broke Chinese box office records to become its highest-grossing film of all time, taking RMB 3.5 billion in under two weeks and the government makes increasing calls to clean up piracy due to the economic contribution of the creative industries.

— A version of this article originally appeared on TechNode