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BitTorrent user convicted over movie sharing

Hong Kong man who distributed three Hollywood films on network will be sentenced for copyright infringement Nov. 7.

A Hong Kong man has been convicted of copyright infringement using the BitTorrent service, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Chan Nai-Ming was found guilty of distributing three Hollywood films using BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file-sharing technology, according to Taiwanese English-language newspaper The China Post.

The unemployed 38-year-old used the software to distribute the copyrighted films "Miss Congeniality", "Daredevil" and "Red Planet." He was arrested by customs officers in January 2005.

Nai-Ming pleaded not guilty to copyright infringement but was convicted after a four-day trial. He will be sentenced on Nov. 7.

BitTorrent is one of the most popular software programs used to acquire large files over the Internet using peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. The application, initially written by programmer Bram Cohen, is open source.

BitTorrent enables its users to download fragments of a large file from many other users, rather than just one. Although the program had relied on centralized tracker files to manage this process, Cohen in May announced that the files were no longer needed. BitTorrent has increasingly become a distribution channel for spyware and adware, and has grown into one of the most widely used means of providing large files for download.

File-sharing networks are coming under increasing pressure from the law, while increasing traffic has sparked a clampdown by recording companies and movie studios, which have sued thousands of peer-to-peer users for copyright infringement over the past few years. The Supreme Court ruled in June that peer-to-peer makers could be sued if they encourage users to copy material without permission.

Karen Gomm of ZDNet UK reported from London.