Australia sees largest piracy raid of '07

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SYDNEY -- Police in the southern Australian state of Victoria have seized more than AUS$4.5 million ($4 million) worth of illegal DVDs and pirating equipment in the country's largest anti-piracy raid so far this year.

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft said Friday that police and the federation's investigators this week seized more than 100,000 DVDs, 51 DVD burners, 14 folders of DVD jacket covers and an extensive catalog of pornography at the Hoai Thu Video Shop in suburban Melbourne.

The store was selling hundreds of movie titles including "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Transformers" and "Bridge to Terabithia," none of which are in DVD release yet here, as well as "Rush Hour 3," which is showing at cinemas around Australia. Spools of discs and prepackaged copies of DVDs were found in back rooms standing by allegedly for distribution interstate.

Adrianne Pecotic, executive director of AFACT, said the burning lab was the biggest discovered this year.

"Those 51 DVD burners running 10 hours per day have the capacity to manufacture over 24,990 illegal DVDs a week with a street value of over AUS$4.5 million a year. We commend the Victorian Police for their actions in this case," she said.

The raid comes on the eve of the release of a new anti-piracy education campaign next month that asks consumers, "What are you really burning?" The campaign invites Australians to consider the negative consequences of film and television piracy.
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