Thai police seizes movie piracy material

MUMBAI: Earlier this month, officers from the Royal Thai Police, assisted by Motion Picture Association (MPA) representatives, raided an optical disc manufacturing and distribution facility in the Bangkok suburb of Nondhaburi, seizing 126 CD-R burners and approximately 20,000 blank CD-Rs.

A couple of days after the same, the Royal Thai Police, again supported by MPA representatives, raided a second pirate optical disc manufacturing and distribution facility in Nondhaburi, seizing an additional 42 CD-R burners and an estimated 20,000 pirated optical discs. The facility was suspected of distributing pirate discs to retail outlets in Bangkok’s notorious Klongtom area.

The raids came during Operation Tripod, an aggressive MPA anti-piracy enforcement initiative targeting the production, distribution and sales of pirated movies that is scheduled to run through 30 June, 2007 in 13 countries and territories across the Asia-Pacific region. Operation Tripod is also focused on the illegal camcording of newly released titles in cinemas.

The burners seized in the two raids are estimated to have been capable of producing as many as nine million pirated CD-Rs in one year, yielding revenues of $4 million, assuming the burners were in operation ten-hours-a-day, sevendays-per-week. Two suspects have been charged with violations of Thailand’s Copyright Act.

On 25 April, Royal Thai Police officers, again assisted by MPA representatives, raided an optical disc manufacturing facility and two distribution warehouses in Nondhaburi, arresting 11 suspects and seizing 140 DVD-R burners.

“The seizure of 308 optical disc burners by the Royal Thai Police during a sixweek period sends a strong message to copyright pirates that Thailand is making a strong commitment to intellectual property protection, and is determined to fight hard against the pirates who so badly damage the country’s economy and reputation. The MPA strongly supports the efforts of Thai law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies to fight piracy and protect intellectual property rights,” said Motion Picture Association senior vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.

While factory-replicated optical discs continue to account for the majority of optical discs produced by movie pirates in the Asia-Pacific region, MPA enforcement operations in 2005-2006 confirmed that a shift is underway in many countries from large-scale production in optical disc factories using machines that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to burner labs that can contain dozens of low-cost burners and are often located in apartments and small retail premises. Both types of operation are capable of producing tens of millions of pirate DVDRs or CD-Rs per year, but burner labs are inexpensive and easy to set up, and if raided, easily and quickly replaceable.