The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced four men to prison on Thursday for creating and profiting from pornographic websites.
Liang Hongbin, Li Yufei, Yu Jianhong, and Chen Dong were apprehended in August during the government's campaign against Internet porn. This is the first case resulting from the crackdown to reach the courts.
The sentences range from one and a half to two and a half years.
Liang, an Internet engineer, and Li, who was unemployed, rented an Internet server in Beijing in May 2004. Yu Jianhong and Chen Dong, who jointly operated websites offering more than 20 pornographic movies, moved their sites to the server operated by Liang and Li.
Customers who wished to download the online could obtain an entry password by sending a message from their mobile phones. However, a fee was charged for accessing the sites.
The operation received a total of 16,000 hits as of July 12, 2004. The four men earned a profit of 16,000 yuan (US$1,927).
Article 363 of the Criminal Law forbids the dissemination of and profiting from pornographic material.
The four defendants, ranging in age from 20 to 25, are all from central China's Henan Province.
The judge urged lawmakers, Internet supervisors and the public to pay more attention to cleaning up the Internet.
While China encourages Internet use for education and business, it bans pornographic websites and tries to block access to foreign pornographic sites.
Some 445 people have been arrested and 1,125 websites have been shut down since July, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Rewards of up to 2,000 yuan (US$240) are offered to citizens who report illegal Internet activity.
In July, Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang said that the people's war against pornographic websites would strengthen the more regular and orderly development of the country's Internet service.
He said that the rampant online pornography of recent years has "severely damaged social style, polluted the social environment, and harmed the physical and psychological health of young people."
(China Daily October 15, 2004)