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£2 Million Pirated DVD Seized in UK

I never thought that I'd see lots of pirated movies and games being sold in the UK. Maybe our very own's Quiapo has met its match?
Over 800,000 Discs Seized And Five People Arrested

Friday 11th May/... At least 800,000 DVDs (among them games) worth an estimated £2 million have been seized and five people arrested at a raid on a West Midlands premises in what is the largest haul ever in the UK.

In an intelligence led joint operation involving West Midlands Police, ELSPA investigators, Sandwell Trading Standards, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and the British record industry's trade association (BPI), warrants were obtained to search the premises: two shops and two home addresses on Thursday 4th May.

The pirate games and DVD operation gravitated around ‘Ace Disks’ - a shop situated in Dudley High Street, where a concealed entrance opened up into an upstairs floor. Here PCs and DVD burners were found and a fully operational counterfeit DVD ‘wholesale business’ in operation. The shop was also under the watchful gaze of several CCTV units.

Although the majority of the 800,000 discs, with an estimated street value of over £2 million, were pirated DVD films (mostly summer blockbusters such as Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Shrek 3), a significant quantity of as yet unspecified games and counterfeit music CDs were also seized. All discs were arranged by type and placed in alphabetical order and it is believed this ‘business’ was supplying a huge number of traders across the whole of the West Midlands.

Prior to the raid, Sandwell Trading Standards recruited investigators from ELSPA and FACT to surveil the premises and corroborate what was believed to be criminal activity at the rear of the shop. This was all but confirmed when, having spent several days pretending to clean graves at a nearby cemetery that overlooked the shop, the investigators followed a young woman from the shop to a local café where she purchased six cartons of coffee and six assorted sandwiches. She was then followed back afterwards and only one person was visible in the shop. A production factory was discovered on the second floor and on the first floor stalls were laid out with approximately 800,000 discs. Five people were arrested and later bailed pending forensic examination of software and hardware recovered from the shop.

Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, commented: “I congratulate Sandwell M.B.C. and West Midlands Police for this very professionally conducted operation. The scale of the operation and the removal of the counterfeit material from the market place will have an immediate impact on local businesses in the area.”

“This is a significant blow to pirates of counterfeit material,” said Keiron Sharp, of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). “ The scale of this operation shows that organised networks are using film piracy to generate substantial profits.”

BPI anti-piracy manager David Wood added: “Music fans buying counterfeit CDs are not only ripping off local shops and the artists and record companies who invest in new music, but lining the pockets of organised criminals. Commercial music piracy costs the industry more than £165m in lost sales every year, it fuels other areas of crime, and we welcome the police’s move to close down what was a hugely significant operation.”

Councillor Mahboob Hussain, Sandwell’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “These counterfeiters are putting jobs at risk and taking billions of pounds out of the UK economy. It’s easy to view this sort of crime as victimless, but it isn’t. It appears that we have closed down a large operation and I congratulate all the agencies involved.”

In August 2005 Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards Department received information that a shop premises, namely ‘Ace Disks’, located in High Street, Dudley, was producing large quantities of copied discs of all formats (games, films and music). The informant related that access could only be gained via a secreted door in the rear of the shop premises, covered by a large poster that disguised the entrance. Access was then gained to the first and second floors. As a result, an ELSPA investigator carried out surveillance on the premises. This was inconclusive and Staffordshire County Council were informed accordingly. In August 2006, following a very successful ‘sting’ operation led by Sandwell Trading Standards and ELSPA investigators at Great Bridge Market, information was received that the producers of the copied discs recovered from the market had in fact been produced at Ace Disks.

About ELSPA -
ELSPA (The Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

ELSPA’s activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Anti-Piracy UK and EU, PR and Communication, Events. More information on all these activities can be found at

About Software Piracy and its negative impact on both consumers and industry.
ELSPA estimates criminal gain through computer and video games piracy sits at approximately £540 million.
Piracy/counterfeiting is illegal and punishable by fines and jail sentences.
The illegal copying of software poses the very real threat of criminal prosecution and a criminal record, as well as the risk of massive personal financial loss under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Consumers have no recourse under law for faulty pirated games, which can damage hardware.
Counterfeited/pirated games are often mixed with obscene or pornographic material.
Local and national jobs are lost as result of pirate operations.
Proven links exist between many organised counterfeiting organisations and dealers in drugs and pornography.

For further information on ELSPA or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Tom Sargent/Laura West
Barrington Harvey
Tel: 01462 456780
Fax: 01462 456781

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