Illegaldownloaders in Hong Kong are facing a two-pronged attack as both the Hong KongCustoms and Excise Department and the local film industry have taken the firstconcrete steps towards curbing online piracy.

Customs announced this week that it has laid charges againsta man arrested in January on suspicion of distributing three movies on theinternet via BitTorrent (BT) technology. In the first case of its kind in HongKong, the 38-year-old man will appear in Magistrates Court on April 29.

Meanwhile, the "Film Industry Response Group", a task forceestablished last year, has identified and located almost 6,000 internet userswho have illegally downloaded one of two Hong Kong movies - House Of Furyand The Eye 10 (aka The Eye Infinity) - which were released atEaster.

With the co-operation of internet service providers, theindustry is sending warning letters to 100 people who have downloaded one ofthe two films.

"They have been warned that they have infringed the filmowner's copyright and if their activities continue they might face legalactions for the compensation of damages and legal costs," the group said in astatement.

Researchers hired by the group detected more than onemillion downloads of House Of Fury, an action comedy packed with local stars.And although the initial "seed" of horror film The Eye 10 was only foundlast week, the number of downloads has already passed 80,000.

Albert Lee, CEO of House Of Fury producer Emperor MotionPictures, said he believes that illegal downloading had a negative impact onthe film's box office: "Distributors from around the region are saying that thefilm has been widely seen through the internet."

Hong Kong's four leading ISPs - PCCW, i-Cable, Hutchison and Hong Kong Broadband - co-operatedwith the industry to locate the illegal downloaders. Of the four, only i-Cableis also a content owner.