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One million illegal discs seized in Sydney.



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RN PM One million illegal discs seized in Sydney

03/12/2008

MARK COLVIN: A window opened into the huge market for illegally copied films and music when the New South Wales police led a series of raids today.

Police say they seized about a million pirated discs in the raids in south-western Sydney. The discs feature the films and music of a host of Asian stars.

Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Pirated films and music are commonly found in street markets in many parts of Asia.

Action films and other titles change hands for the equivalent of a dollar or two.

(Sound of film violence)

The black-market is huge in Asia and by the latest reckoning, must be pretty big in Australia too.

DEAN MITCHELL: Today's by seizure by New South Wales Police of close to a million discs is the biggest seizure of pirate movies and music ever in Australia.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Dean Mitchell is the national investigations manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations.

The organisation is the anti-piracy arm of the Australian music industry. He says the seized discs appear to have been made in Australia. The manufacturers took steps to cover their tracks.

DEAN MITCHELL: It was particularly clandestine and moved frequently across a number of Sydney's suburbs to enable it to avoid or in an attempt to avoid detection by both industry investigators and New South Wales police.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Dean Mitchell says the million or so titles seized were copies of films and music featuring popular south-east Asian artists. He says there's still a financial loss for Australians.

DEAN MITHCELL: Now regardless of whether these may be artists which have recorded overseas or artists which have been recorded in Australia, people have invested a significant amount of time and effort to record these things and I think the most important thing to remember if that the people who are really suffering for this type of crime are our local Australian retailers.

The local mum and dad shops who are trying to make an honest living, particularly in these difficult economic times in the lead up to the Christmas. They're just trying to run a small independent music shop and they can't compete with these people who are constantly infringing copyright.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The latest anti-piracy operation centred on south-western Sydney, home to many immigrants from south-east Asia.

Dean Mitchell is familiar with today's raids.

DEAN MITCHELL: Shortly after 7.00am this morning, New South Wales police executed five search warrants across south-western Sydney. One of those search warrants was a secure storage facility where police forced entry.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: How was the network cracked?

DEAN MITCHELL: The information is relation to today's raid and our ongoing investigations came to us from the public. People who are trying to legitimately make a living or consumers who think they are buying legitimate discs are actually being ripped off by people who are involved in these organised criminal syndicates.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Do you think this is going to make a dent in the trade or you suspect it's much bigger?

DEAN MITCHELL: Well we think today we have dismantled a significant player in the pirate movie and music industry and we think that the supply will be severely interrupted.

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BRENDAN TREMBATH: Authorities say Australia's largest commercial piracy manufacturing ring has been smashed.

Its reputed members will face court accused of copyright infringement. The potential penalties range from fines to jail time.

But film and music piracy is an enduring trade. On the day a major anti-piracy operation was underway in south-western Sydney, this shop in inner-Sydney was openly selling pirated films in a bargain bin out front.

(Sound of music playing)

The films were all in flimsy plastic sleeves, not the hard plastic cases in which DVDs are usually sold. The dodgy discs were dirt cheap too. Many of them were three for $10.

Most titles were Asian productions. But the latest James Bond film was there too, for $5.

Quantum of Solace is still showing at the movies and has yet to be officially released on DVD.

MARK COLVIN: Brendan Trembath.

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