Russia uncovers largest DVD pirate factory

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LONDON -- Russia's anti-piracy forces have uncovered the country's largest-ever pirate DVD factory, the Motion Picture Assn. said Tuesday.

Capable of producing 100 million DVDs a year, the scale of the operation surprised authorities, who were completely unaware of its existence until last week.

Located at the former Leningrad Pipe casting plant in the Kolpino district of St. Petersburg, the pirate replication plant was initially investigated by the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization before the Ministry of Interior's Economic Crime Department took over the case.

Raided last week by officers from the local Tax Police with the support of RAPO investigators, nine DVD lines were seized along with 10 DVD stampers and about 60,000 pirated discs. Further investigations found another 140 stampers along with 50 tons of polycarbonate and a computer concealed within the roof space of a workshop. Experts estimated that the equipment installed at the plant was worth about €30 million ($39 million). Business documents also were recovered.

The MPA said it was estimated that the plant had the capacity to press 100 million discs a year and it was believed to have been operational for more than six months.

Prior to its discovery, the largest illegal DVD manufacturing site in Russia was found in Pushkino, near Moscow, which contained three DVD lines.

Stating that the industry had scored a great success in the battle against piracy, RAPO director Konstantin Zemchenkov paid tribute to the police.

"This could not have been done without the commitment of the police officers involved, especially those from the MOI's IP Department No. 28," he said. "The film industry, both in terms of our local industry, which has been revitalized over the last two years, and the international industry has to be defended against those who would unscrupulously exploit the creative efforts of others."
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