MPA's Octopus puts squeeze on pirates


HONG KONG -- In an effort dubbed Operation Octopus, the MPA conducted raids Oct. 15-19 in Hong Kong and Bangkok against pirate disc vendors and manufacturers, the MPA said Thursday.

Raids on seven DVD shops, together with seven street hawkers and a disc-burning lab, resulted in the confiscation of 64,000 pirated discs along with several thousand pornographic discs.

HK$2 million ($256,410) of discs were seized, the bulk of them Hollywood, Hong Kong and Japanese titles. Among the seized titles were "Evan Almighty," "Transformers" and TV series "Friends" and "The O.C."

The MPA operated in conjunction with 100 officers from Hong Kong Customs Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau and the Special Task Force.

In Bangkok, the MPA worked with the Crime Suppression Division of Central Investigation Bureau to raid an optical disc factory in Meenburi on Oct. 19.

"This criminal activity has to be stopped. It is destroying the Thai film industry, the Thai economy and the reputation of the country," said General Adisorn Nonsri, commissioner of CIB.

Three men -- two Thai and one Burmese -- were arrested and face up to $25,000 fine and four years in jail under the Copyright Act. Two VCD replicating devices and a printing machine, were confiscated, and an arrest warrant has been issued for the owner of the premises.

The MPA on Thursday also announced the winners of a slogan and storyboard competition they launched to promote IPR protection across Asia. The winning entries will be used in MPA promotional material at the China Audio Visual Expo, held in December in Guangzhou, China.

"While enforcement will always remain necessary in the fight against piracy, real long-term gains will come from increasing consumer awareness of the harm piracy causes," said Sam Ho, the MPA's Greater China director of operations.