Pirate movie burner lab raided in Bangkok

MUMBAI: In the early hours of 19 February, following investigations by Motion Picture Association (MPA), 20 officers  from the Economic and Technological Crime Suppression Division (ECOTEC) of the Royal Thai Police together with MPA representatives raided a residence in Bangkok, seizing 170 DVD-R and 30 CD-R burners, approximately 45,000 pirated DVD-Rs and CD-Rs as well as 22,000 artwork sleeves. Six suspects, three Thai men and three Thai women, were arrested.

Among the haul were 1,000 discs infringing MPA member company titles including Aliens vs. Predator 2, Charlie Wilson’s War and Cloverfield. Most of the seized titles infringed local Thai movies just released in cinemas.

The lab allegedly supplied pirated discs at approximately THB 30 ($ 1) to pirate vendors in and around Bangkok who then retail them for THB 100 ($ 3). The seized burners are estimated to have been capable of producing as many as five million pirated discs in one year, yielding potential revenues of $ 15 million.

“Pirates are parasites that destroy legitimate businesses by sucking the lifeblood from the entertainment industry,” said ECOTEC commander general Visuth Vanichburta. “They might be able to transform their activities from a factory to a burner lab, but we will use all the efforts at hand to combat them.”

“We commend the Thai authorities’ vigilance in seeking and taking out a major pirate operation so close on the heels of the successes of Operation Blackout,” said Mike Ellis, senior vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific for the MPA. “Burners seem to be the equipment of choice these days, of pirates in Thailand. Compare the 142 burners seized in 2006 to the 1,282 seized in 2007, and now, this haul, just weeks into 2008. We look forward to hearing more such news throughout the year.”