Asia-Pacific region launches piracy crackdown


BEIJING -- Local authorities across the Asia-Pacific region launched a holiday season crackdown on movie piracy Wednesday, the Motion Picture Assn. said in Hong Kong.

In the anti-piracy push, authorities in 13 Asia-Pacific countries will work with the MPA in targeting the makers and sellers of illegal DVDs during the year-end holiday shopping season and the start of Asia's Lunar New Year period, when many new movies are released.

The operation, set to end Jan. 31, comes after an MPA-commissioned study in May which showed that potential sales lost to piracy in Asia by MPA member studios totaled $1.2 billion in 2005.

Despite increased efforts at law enforcement in China's capital, illegal DVDs costing less than $1 each are widely available and illegal movie downloads from the Internet also are on the rise.

Dubbed "Operation Trident," the new enforcement push will continue the MPA's practice of leading four, semi-annual sweeps across the Asia-Pacific region that it says have resulted in more than 2,500 arrests and over 23 million illegal optical discs seized.

"For major specific crackdowns and operations there is nothing unusual about announcing such plans," MPA senior vp and Asia-Pacific regional director Mike Ellis said when asked about the effectiveness of announcing law-enforcement plans ahead of time. "In itself, it assists to act as a deterrent."

Operation Trident's anti-piracy efforts will be conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

In 2005, the MPA said its operations in the Asia-Pacific region investigated more than 34,000 cases of piracy and assisted law enforcement officials in conducting more than 10,500 raids.

These activities resulted in the seizure of more than 34 million illegal optical discs, 55 factory production lines and 3,362 optical disc burners as well as the initiation of more than 8,000 legal actions, the group says.

The MPA-commissioned study on the effects of piracy on the film industry was published in May by LEK Consulting in Los Angeles. The study showed potential sales lost to piracy in the U.S. were $1.3 billion in 2005, while the worldwide total in the same period was $6.1 billion.

The greatest potential sales losses by region were in Europe at about $2.4 billion, the study showed.