Studios reach out to police in anti-piracy effort

CMPDA seeks help to put bootleggers out of business

TORONTO -- The major studios are enlisting local police and politicians to tackle a surging market in bootleg Hollywood movie DVDs in Toronto malls.

Stephen Covey, director of anti-piracy operations for the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Assn., said Friday that about 200,000 illegal DVDs, including some of the summer's top blockbusters, were recently seized in three north Toronto malls during a series of raids in the heart of the Canadian-Chinese community.

But Covey said the CMPDA now requires help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other law enforcement authorities to put a hard-core group of vendors who openly sell bootleg DVDs out of business.

"We've taken it as far as we can, and now we need the government and police to move and clear them out," Covey said.

He added that the target retailers have been hit repeatedly with cease-and-desist orders from the CMPDA and had their illegal product confiscated, and yet remain in business via the deep pockets of their organized crime backers.

In the next two weeks, CMPDA officials will be joined by representatives of the major studios, Blockbuster, HMV and other video retailers to take their case directly to local authorities.

The CMPDA aims to repeat the success it had last year when the federal government enacted a law to end the illegal recording of new releases in domestic cinemas after Warner Bros. threatened a movie preview ban in Canada.

Covey said that a similar pre-emptive strike by the studios against illegal retail sales of bootleg DVDs is not yet in the works.

Instead, the studios, in upcoming talks with Canadian authorities, will be keen to remind them that they bring their movies up north for production, and that they want their product protected from organized crime that profits directly from the sale of bootleg DVDs.