Mumbai: The Starship Children’s Hospital received 23 DVD players from Motion Picture Association (MPA) president and managing director and Asia-Pacific and New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZFACT) director Mike Ellis. Fifty movies on DVD were also donated by movie distributors Roadshow and movie producers Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures.
The DVD players, used to make pirated copies of movies, were forfeited by order of the court following the conviction of 45-year-old Harjit Singh Assi for making and selling infringing movies. In addition to losing the DVD players, the pirate was fined US$10,040 (NZ$15,000) and ordered to serve 250 hours community service.
"I can think of no better use for DVD players confiscated from criminals who steal movies," said Ellis. "Instead of being used to steal money from New Zealand’s film industry and economy they will now be used to cheer up sick kids."
"This is a great way to ‘recycle’ the tools of piracy," said Mark Crooke, Operations Manager for Warner Brothers Pictures. "Warner Brothers is pleased to donate movies to help entertain the kids at the Starship Hospital."
The charges Assi faced arose from a raid conducted by the New Zealand Police in January this year, a raid resulting from a three-month joint investigation involving the Police, Department of Internal Affairs, the Film and Video Labeling Body and NZFACT.
Along with the DVD players, the raid also saw the seizure of 59 VCR which were also used to reproduce pirated copies when police entered the premises. Over 30,000 pirated DVDs of various movies were seized, including copies of the Bollywood blockbuster "Saawariya." The raid was the largest ever single seizure of pirated discs in New Zealand, dwarfing the seizure of 18,000 pirated discs in 2006.
"This is a significant result for New Zealand’s film production and distribution industries, as it emphasizes the importance of IP rights and the need to protect them." said Tony Eaton, Executive Director of NZFACT. "That we can donate the confiscated DVD players to a very good cause is the icing on the cake".
Starship Foundation CEO, Andrew Young, said the donation of the DVD players and DVD movies could not have come at a better time for the hospital.
"Last week we had a DVD player break down in our neonatal intensive care unit, so that service is thrilled to have a replacement available so quickly – without delving into already-strained public health budgets. We also have many patients on the wards who will be entertained while undergoing lengthy or difficult treatments, as well as some families who will be able to take a DVD player home to relieve boredom during their recovery."
Young said DVD players were also used by staff for health promotion and internal training as well as teaching parents of patients about various illnesses and treatment processes.
"As a charity, the Starship Foundation can make great use of new and as-new items. While donated funds will always help us meet our many fundraising targets, donated products help to make life a lot more comfortable and enjoyable for patients, their families and staff. Anything to cut stress levels is a huge bonus in our busy, national children’s hospital," Mr Young says. "We’re thrilled to be the first public beneficiary of forfeited items from the NZ Federation Against Copyright Theft and the Motion Picture Association."