Japanese firms laud piracy crackdown


TOKYO -- Movie and television companies in Japan have applauded the ongoing crackdown against copyright pirates, with the announcement Sunday evening of the arrest of two Brazilian nationals reportedly behind the illegal copying of thousands of Walt Disney television programs.

Police from the central Japan prefecture of Aichi have expanded an investigation that led to the arrest in January of five people and the seizure of 800,000 illegally copied DVDs at a video store near the city of Nagoya with the latest arrests, which took place on Friday evening, police said.

"This is a really positive development in the campaign against the pirates, and we are very optimistic that these latest arrests will lead to an even wider investigation in the coming months," said Yasutaka Iiyama, executive director of the Motion Pictures Association of Japan.

"There are some suggestions that this group had links to organized crime groups here, and we are very concerned that this problem could spread, so we are delighted that the police are putting so much effort into the campaign," he said.

As well as confiscating 300 pirated CDs, police seized 5,000 blank discs and two computers when they raided the home of Isawa Helvio Yukishigue, 38, and Alvest Valter Teles, 36, in the town of Ina, Nagano Prefecture. Both are charged with violating the copyright law.

Japan has a large South American population, primarily living and working in the vehicle factories of Aichi Prefecture. Authorities learned last year that advertisements had been posted at about 40 Brazilian-owned supermarkets and stores for dubbed movies since around March 2000.

Perfecting their operation and making the most of the Internet over the following years, the pirates had earned some ¥3 million ($25,425) every month.

According to police, the two suspects were in possession of an illegally copied Disney television program on a DVD when they were arrested.