The CEO of Silu, which owns SiluHD.com, a piracy website for HD movies, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison on criminal copyright charges. Six of his other executives also received prison sentences. The executives were found guilty of uploading 22,000 works, which the Beijing court found in violation of the Berne convention, which China adopted in 1992.
The website, which was established for over a decade and considered China’s largest high-definition multimedia hosting website, charged its 1.4 million registered users a membership fee of 50 yuan ($8.11) for access to the content. It was a sophisticated website, which appeared to provide information and news about movies. Through a linked forum, however, users accessed download links to blu-ray movies. Up to 6,000 downloads were made on a daily basis. The website generated between 200 and 300 million yuan ($32 million and $50 million) a year in advertising revenue.
After several months of investigation by the Beijing Cultural Law Enforcement Team, Chinese authorities detained the CEO and over 30 employees on charges of infringement of intellectual property rights last year. The website was also shut down. After the arrests, a slew of other illegal movie downloading sites closed down voluntarily.