In a wide-ranging sweep of the Asia-Pacific region, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) seized 5.9 million pirated optical discs and local police arrested 277 suspected motion picture pirates, the association said Thursday.
The crackdown, called Operation Eradicate, was conducted in 12 countries and began last month. It involved 876 raids that were mounted in ‘piracy hot spots’ in an attempt to protect sales of cinema movie tickets and legitimate DVDs, VCDs and VHS tapes by reducing the availability of such products during the busy year-end and New Year holiday periods, the MPA said.
In China, more than 300 retail outlets, 21 warehouses, a packing factory, and two illegal VCD factories were raided in 76 operations. The sweep covered locations in several Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chengdu, Shijiazhuang, Shenyang and Guangzhou. The operations netted over 4.3 million illegal VCDs and CDs, and involved the arrest of 34 people, according to the association.
“It’s important to raid the warehouses and factories, where we can seize large numbers of discs,” said Margaret Fu, an MPA spokeswoman in Hong Kong.
“With the street vendors, if you arrest them one day, they’ll be back the next day. We’ll never stop that route,” she said.
Pirates with CD pressing equipment can produce thousands of VCDs or DVDs daily. China, Malaysia and Taiwan are major centers for optical disc piracy and China’s piracy rate is about 95 percent, the association said on its Web site.
The MPA estimates that its member companies lose more than US$718 million in potential revenue each year in the Asia-Pacific region, compared to about $3 billion lost annually in potential worldwide revenue through piracy. These figures do not include Internet piracy, which involves file sharing.
In Hong Kong, more than 200 shop raids conducted on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 resulted in the seizure of more than 89,000 DVDs and VCDs, 40 CD-R burners, and the arrest of 26 people. In Thailand, 54 operations against street vendors in Bangkok netted over half a million VCDs and DVDs and resulted in the arrest of 38 people.
In the Philippines, the MPA worked with over 300 members of the country’s Special Weapons and Tactics teams and Special Action Force Units in a raid of a Manila-based shopping mall. DVDs and VCDs with an estimated street value of 476 million pesos (US$8.5 million) were seized, the association said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will strike Taiwan from its Special 301 Priority Watch List and move the country to its Watch List, citing improvements in copyright law reform and enforcement following a recent review of that country and Poland, the agency said Wednesday.
Poland, despite strengthened anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting measures, will remain on the agency’s Watch List, USTR said.
Super 301 refers to a provision of the Trade Act of 1974 that gives USTR the authority to identify foreign countries considered to have trade barriers and/or unfair trade practices into four categories. The most serious is the Priority Foreign Country category, followed by the Section 306 monitoring category, the Priority Watch List and the least serious, which is called the Watch List.
A report in May 2004 had placed Poland on the Watch List and kept Taiwan on the Priority Watch List.