Five arrested in Canadian piracy crackdown

Suspects face fraud, illegal possession charges

TORONTO --A six-month investigation of Toronto DVD pirates begun by the major Hollywood studios has produced five arrests by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

On Wednesday, the Canadian police said that five north Toronto mall DVD merchants -- Huici Chen, Chung Ping Pang, Tongjin Chen, Ya Ouyang and Huixin Chen -- face multiple charges under the federal Copyright Act for fraud and possession of property obtained by crime.

The arrests follow the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Assn., which represents the major studios here, hitting DVD vendors at north Toronto malls with cease and desist orders last year in response to the open selling of pirated Hollywood movies (HR 1/9).

Even as the CMPDA investigators confiscated the illegal DVDs, the vendors managed to restart their illegal activity with impunity.

So a studio-led consortium that included Blockbuster, HMV and other video retailers approached the RCMP last December to launch their own investigation and make arrests that would stick.

Wednesday's charges follow an RCMP raid on Pacific Mall in north Toronto on Feb. 6, in which 49,000 pirated DVDs, including titles like "Bride Wars," "Mall Cop," "Marley and Me" were seized. The police raids also netted more than 100,000 blank DVDs and 217 DVD burners.

"There are legitimate businesses who are having difficulty staying solvent because of these pirated DVDs," RCMP inspector Peter Goulet said Wednesday.

If convicted, the five DVD retailers could face fines of up to CAN$1 million, or five years in prison.

The arrests come six days after Washington placed Canada on a blacklist of piracy nations compiled by the U.S. Trade Representative (HR 4/30).