Australian Police Bust Multinational Pirate DVD Syndicate
Australian authorities on Thursday seized 1.2 million high-quality pirate DVDs of movies and TV series from a residential address and an industrial premises in Western Sydney. Police say they have shut down the end-point of what is believed to be an international piracy syndicate.
A 29 year-old woman was arrested and a 37-year-old man is said to be currently assisting police with their investigation. Police say both are likely to be charged with numerous copyright and trademark offenses, as well as dealing with the proceeds of crime, fraud and money laundering offenses.
According to a statement released by the Asia Pacific branch of the Motion Picture Association, it will be alleged that the syndicate were using multiple names, residential and business addresses, and post office boxes to import the DVDs into Australia from an overseas source. The DVDs and accompanying artwork and promotional inserts were then allegedly assembled and repackaged in an industrial premises in the Kings Park are of Sydney, before being sold on eBay for 30 percent less than their recommended retail price. The copies were so well done that customers would have been under the impression that the DVDs and box sets they were purchasing were authentic.
Over 65,000 counterfeit DVDs were already sold on two eBay accounts, totaling sales in excess of $1.67 million, according to police. It will also be alleged that the discs were also being sold to unsuspecting small retail outlets in a number of Australian states, according to the MPA.
The haul included both local and international movie titles and TV box sets, as well as music DVDs and CDs of local and international artists.
In addition to the huge cache of discs, police also seized a number of computers, company records, artwork and promotional inserts, a shrink wrapping machine, and over $20,800 in cash and gift cards.
The operation was carried out by detectives from Quakers Hill Police, with support from the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.
Following the bust, Mike Ellis, president and managing director of the MPA Asia Pacific said, “We applaud the work conducted by Australian police... The significant size of this high quality counterfeit DVD ring indicates that criminal syndicates continue to exploit the valuable work of our creative communities, and cause severe problems for both local businesses providing legitimate entertainment services and for movie fans who rightly expect their purchase online to be the genuine article.”
“Closing down this counterfeit DVD racket and seizing a record number of over one million illegal discs is a tremendous result,” he added.
The penalties for copyright crimes under the Australian Commonwealth Copyright Act are a maximum of $60,500 and up to five years in jail per offense.