Alan Zhou and Roland Lu, the owners and operators of Shenzhen Welnavi Technology Co., LTD (“Shenzhen Welnavi”) factory in Shenzhen, China, who police determined illegally programmed pirate IPTV boxes in Shenzhen and marketed and sold them around the world under the “Filstream” brand, were arrested and charged with copyright infringement by the Shenzhen Police on Wednesday, local time in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. Two senior programmers at the factory were also arrested and charged in connection with the matter. All those arrested are expected to remain in custody pending trial which is likely to take place next year. The Shenzhen police team conducted a raid of Shenzhen Welnavi on February 28, 2017 and the company’s servers and business records were seized as part of the police team’s criminal investigation of the illegal distribution network.
The arrests in China were the culmination of an eight-month long worldwide investigation spearheaded by the Philippine media and entertainment network ABS-CBN. To date, the investigation has resulted in the arrest and seizure of Filstream box distributors in Illinois and Florida. The criminal arrest and prosecution of additional distributors in multiple locations around the United States and Canada is ongoing and expected within the coming weeks.
Arrested together with Zhou were Roland Lu and two programmers, who were all charged with copyright infringement with a maximum penalty of seven years in jail. Zhou, Lu and the two programmers, are expected to stay in jail until trial which is to begin in about a year. Shenzhen Welnavi has been fully shut down.
“Piracy is a cancer in the content industry”
According to ABS-CBN’s AVP & Head of Global Anti-Piracy Elisha Lawrence, “The police have determined that Alan Zhou and Roland Lu ran a global piracy operation with the intent to interfere with ABS-CBN’s legitimate business. ABS-CBN/TFC distributes its content through cable providers, its own TFC IPTV boxes, as well as via digitally on tfc.tv. Alan Zhou and Roland Lu have disrupted ABS-CBN’s legitimate business. In addition, Filstream’s distributors contacted ABS-CBN’s distributors throughout the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, soliciting them to be Filstream’s distributors. They contacted customers of ABS-CBN offering their boxes in lieu of ABS-CBN’s legitimate IPTV boxes. They blatantly confused customers by using ABS-CBN’s registered trademarks and logos on their websites and social media sites. Alan Zhou and Roland Lu’s actions were despicable.”
Lawrence revealed also that ABS-CBN plans to continue to initiate and enforce criminal and civil actions against anyone who steals its movies and TV shows and offers them via IPTV box, free websites or on Youtube, Daily Motion and Facebook.
“ABS-CBN spends millions of dollars each year producing these TV shows and movies and we will not allow these pirates to give them away for free,” Lawrence explained.
Lawrence had harsh words for Zhou and Lu. “Pirates are thieves stealing the content that ABS-CBN has invested a great deal of time to create,” she said. “I am glad to see them, and their distributors, being criminally pursued by every means under the law in China and the U.S. I am very grateful for the excellent work by the police in Shenzhen, China, Illinois, and Florida. It is a global operation with an army of investigators throughout the world that helped us get the evidence to support the raids in China and the United States.”
ABS-CBN Global COO Raffy Lopez was very clear about the company’s stand against piracy.
“The management of ABS-CBN has absolutely no tolerance for content piracy. We will continue to do everything in our power to prosecute all who would attempt to pirate our content,” said Lopez. “Piracy is like a cancer in the content industry. The pirates, in their selfish pursuit of short-term profits, have absolutely no regard for their negative impact on the industry. We will continue our vigilance in finding and prosecuting all pirates regardless of the cost.”
As the Filstream signal has been shut down, for all victims who purchased the Filstream boxes, call 1-866-746-6988 now to receive one month FREE TFC subscription or visit www.tfc-usa.com/tfcbox for details.