Big raid in South China: 1.8 million discs seized

Authorities acted on tip from MPA

BEIJING -- Authorities in South China, acting on a tip from the Motion Picture Assn., seized 1.8 million optical discs in their largest anti-piracy raid so far this year, the MPA said Monday.

On March 17, officials from China's National Anti-Piracy and Pornography Office and the Guangzhou Cultural Task Force raided an optical-disc manufacturing and storage facility in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and seized the discs, 1.64 million of which are suspected of being illegal copies of movies and television series, the MPA said in a statement issued from its regional office in Hong Kong.

Also seized in the raid were 30 machines used to erase source identification codes that can allow investigators to determine the manufacturer of an optical disc.

Officials detained two men believed to be managers of the facility and are extending their investigation of the operation.

The seized discs included illegal copies of dozens of MPA member company films, pirated versions of every Chinese film released to date this year as well as many U.S., Korean and Japanese animation and television series titles.

China's market for pirated DVDs is among the biggest in the world, largely because consumers have little access to a variety of legal product because of government restrictions on what can be shown and because of lax punishment of pirates by the courts.

The MPA estimates its member companies lost $244 million in potential revenue to piracy in China in 2005.

"The Motion Picture Assn. and our member companies greatly appreciate the efforts of the National Anti-Piracy and Pornography Office and Guangzhou Cultural Task Force in shutting down what was clearly a significant operation," Mike Ellis, MPA Asia Pacific regional director, said in a statement.

"However, raids and seizures alone will not foster a vibrant film entertainment business in China unless the Chinese government aggressively targets intellectual property theft by opening its markets, implementing strict laws and sentencing guidelines, and making clear to pirates and the population at large that it will not tolerate criminal behavior," Ellis said.