UK jails pirate for selling Bollywood DVDs

MUMBAI: A Southall Broadway trader in the UK has been sentenced to 15 months in jail after he was caught with 20,000 pirate DVDs and CDs during a joint investigation by Ealing Council and the Metropolitan Police.

Valued at more than £200,000, the haul was seized during a raid on a retail unit in Punjabi Bazaar (45 The Broadway, Southall) and an associated flat by officers from the council’s Trading Standards team and the Southall Broadway Safer Neighbourhood Police Team on 5 May, 2006.

In Isleworth Crown Court on Friday (20 April) Raghubir Singh Chopra, a 27-year-old man from Hayes, pleaded guilty to the possession for sale of illegal counterfeit DVDs and associated offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994. He was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.

Ealing Council Leader Jason Stacey said, “This is yet another great result for our partnership work on tackling the sale of counterfeit goods and organised crime. Piracy is a serious crime with serious consequences and our action sends a clear message that we won’t let it go unpunished.”

Taking action to make Ealing’s communities safer is one of the Council’s three priorities. The Council’s other two priorities are cleaner streets and providing value for money services.

Police Sergeant Shahid Malik, of Southall Broadway Safer Neighbourhood Team, said, “I hope that local residents will be pleased that the Southall Broadway Safer Neighbourhood Team along with the Council are taking such positive action to deal with counterfeit sales and distribution. We will continue to gather intelligence and evidence against people who continue to break the law to combat this sort of offence. We are fully committed to targeting and ultimately stopping local crime networks that are involved in counterfeit sales and distribution.”

BPI Director of Anti-Piracy David Wood added, “Despite the fantastic efforts of the Metropolitan Police and Trading Standards, Asian music and film piracy remains an enormous problem, particularly in Southall, and the piracy rate is still some way above that of western products. By selling vast quantities of counterfeit Bollywood CDs and DVDs Chopra’s criminal activity was illegally generating him significant income at the expense of the music and film industries, London’s legitimate retail businesses, honest taxpayers, and of course the artists themselves.”

Officers raided the unit and flat following intelligence and information received from a variety of sources including local residents.

Nearly all the DVDs seized were Bollywood films, some of which had not yet been released in UK cinemas.

Stacey added, “Film and music piracy may seem like a victimless crime but it has links to organised crime and other criminal activity including the drugs market, violence, benefit fraud, and the abuse of people who are forced to sell these items on the street. When consumers buy a pirate DVD, not only do they risk viewing a poor quality film, they are also supporting organised crime.”

The estimated genuine equivalent retail value of the counterfeit DVDs and CDs seized is more than £200,000. The estimated street value is £50,000. Film piracy nets more than £270 million a year for criminals in the UK. Counterfeit DVDs and CDs are sold everywhere from ice cream vans through to barber’s shops and pubs and clubs. It is an attractive trade for criminals who see it as a low risk, high profit industry. Gangs are thought to employ illegal immigrants trying to pay off their debts for a passage to the UK or to cover their lodgings