Operation Octopus sqeezes HK pirates


MUMBAI: Between 15 – 19 October, the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFA©T-GC) joined force with over 100 officers from the Hong Kong Customs Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau (IPIB) and Special Task Force (STF) in a territory-wide anti-piracy operation against a series of distribution and retail outlets selling pirated optical discs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.


The places busted included seven DVD shops and seven street hawkers. Coupled with a sizeable DVD burning laboratory smashed by the Customs investigators, the week-long raids netted nearly 64,000 pirated optical discs and some thousands of pornographic discs. The majority of the infringing DVDs seized were Hollywood, Hong Kong and Japanese movie titles, including such blockbuster movies as Evan Almighty, Knocked Up, Transformers as well as TV series Friends and The O.C.. The total retail value of the seized DVDs was about HK$2 million (US$256,410).


The burner lab, with 97 DVD-R burners operating at full speed at the time of the Customs raid, is the largest one detected in Hong Kong this year. If it were allowed to continue with such illegal business for a year, it could have produced over five million pirated DVDs and generated a potential revenue of about HK$104 million (US$13 million) by this pirate syndicate.


The joint investigation targeted at shops that sell pirated movies disguised as legitimate products. The shops charged HK$35 – HK$70 a copy, versus HK$20 they usually charged for a pirated movie DVD. Some shops accepted credit card payment, a rather unusual way of doing business by traditional pirate shops.


IFA©T-GC executive director and general manager Sam Ho said, “Hong Kong Customs are to be congratulated and thanked for their excellent work especially in relation to the raid against burner laboratories. These crooks were not only cheating the owners of the pirated movies, but were also cheating consumers into spending their hard-earned cash on what they thought were legitimate movies. IFA©T-GC is committed to stamping out this kind of criminal exploitation and, as their prompt and decisive action shows, so are the Hong Kong authorities.”


“Hong Kong Customs acknowledge the support and co-operation given by the copyright industry in fighting the battle against piracy. We will continue to take stringent action to bring the copyright pirates to justice,” said Hong Kong Customs assistant commissioner (intelligence and investigation) Y K Tam.


“Another successful major operation by the Hong Kong authorities in taking out the source of pirated DVDs and their distribution networks. Their work and the results speak for themselves,” said Motion Picture Association senior vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.