Police shuts down largest pirate factory ops in Thailand

MUMBAI: On 24 September, following a seven month-long investigation by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), 30 officers from the Economic and Cyber Crime Division (ECOTEC) of the Royal Thai Police, with the assistance of representatives from MPA’s Thailand program raided the largest ever pirate replicating facility situated in the central Thai province of Nonthaburi seizing four DVD-replicating machines, two CD-replicating machines, three colour printers and arresting two people. It is the biggest single seizure of lines in one operation in Thailand and the second major raid for the Thai enforcement authorities this year.

The haul included 10,000 pirated DVDs as well as 100,000 artwork sleeves infringing MPA member companies’ titles such as Angels & Demons, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Preliminary findings show that this major pirate syndicate has been operating for the past three years and was involved in the distribution of pirated discs across Thailand and exporting to Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Further investigations are being carried out by ECOTEC officers to determine the masterminds behind this operation. The two men aged 32 and 49 arrested are factory workers and are currently assisting the police.

The seized machines have a total capacity of producing 21 million pirated DVDs a year, generating potential illegal gains of $63 million.

"We have no tolerance for piracy. These illegal factories are clearly linked to organized crime elements in this country and we are committed to wiping these syndicates out," said Department of Intellectual Property deputy director – general Pajchima Tanasanti.

"We applaud the resolve of the Thai authorities in going after these criminal organizations and are encouraged by the shut-down of this major pirate operation. However, much more remains to be done to wipe out this problem that also adversely affects the local film industry and takes away jobs. The key is staying on track with sustained enforcement at all levels and keeping up the pressure to discourage these criminals. We at the MPA remain firmly behind the Government in their efforts to protect intellectual property rights in the country," said MPA president and managing director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.

This raid is the biggest after the record haul of close to 500 burners from a pirate burner lab operation in Bangkok in February this year that also resulted in five arrested.