An Australian man, Yong Hong Lin, has gone to jail for three months for music and movie piracy in what is a landmark case for Australia because it marks the first time that someone has been jailed for piracy as a result of a jury conviction.

Eighteen custodial sentences have previously been handed down in Australia – ten men have been put behind bars and five men and three women given a suspended sentence – but in each case a magistrate decided whether to convict.

“It indicates that there is greater appreciation from the public that copyright piracy is a crime, that it has consequences and that it is not victimless,” executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), told

Lin was legally selling Asian television and movies in his suburban store, but not the more than 16,000 movie and music discs found by News South Wales police in February. Many were Hollywood films, imported from China for 50 cents and sold for $6 (A$7) or illegally burnt locally.

The jury convicted Lin on 15 of 31 offences after deliberating for 12 hours after the three-week trial in Sydney’s District Court. The shift to a jury has occurred because of amendments to the Copyright Act in 2007 which introduced three tiers of penalties rather than just one maximum penalty.

“We are at a tipping point and jail terms are without doubt the only way the courts can provide the strong deterrence needed to stop such profitable and damaging crimes,” said Gane.

AFACT and other organisations addressing piracy are hammering home the message that piracy has adverse effects.

Twelve days ago the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPAF) issued some research indicating that 69% of Australians had been exposed to an anti-piracy awareness campaign and, of those, 71% believed it had made them more aware of the consequences of piracy, and 63% that it had made them less likely to access pirated films in the future. This figure increased to 73% for 13-17 year olds. More than 1,000 cinemagoers were interviewed aged 13-54 years.

But in other research released by IPAF, of the 66% who said they weren’t involved in piracy, when asked about specific activities, 42% of them admitted to buying pirated DVDs (in Australia), 42% to allowing someone else to copy their original DVD, and 26% to downloading movies illegally.

In other words, many think they aren’t involved, but often are. More than 1200 people aged 18 to 64 years were interviewed and 27% aged 18 to 64 years freely admitted to being involved in piracy.