LONDON — Two men were jailed Tuesday after admitting their part in running one of the biggest pirate DVD factories in the U.K., capable of producing thousands of counterfeited films a day.
John Tak Ke Lau, a chef, and the unemployed Chee Chong Liew had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony and Columbia when they appeared at Harrow Crown Court.
Lau was sentenced to 16 months in prison, and Liew was jailed for 21 months. The judge also recommended Liew be deported at the end of his sentence.
The men were arrested Feb. 1 when Kent police officers discovered the factory at an industrial unit in London.
More than 20,000 illegally copied DVDs were seized, along with computers, more than 200 DVD burners and printers used to produce labels and covers, plus thousands of blank DVDs and plastic cases.
The factory had the capacity to produce up to 36,000 counterfeit DVDs each day — although it is thought only about 8,000 discs were actually being produced daily, with an estimated street value of around £1.2 million ($2.24 million) each month.
The raid followed months of intelligence-gathering and arrests made during the police’s Operation Excalibur, a joint initiative with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).
“The discovery of this factory helped break up a criminal network supplying counterfeit films in Kent and across the southeast and London,” said Detective Inspector John Biggadike, who led the police inquiry.
Separately, a 36-year-old man was taken into custody Tuesday in Sittingbourne, Kent, after police seized counterfeit DVDs.
Police officer Jason Hedges received a tipoff via the town’s Swale Safe radio network that a man was allegedly selling counterfeit DVDs. The man was tracked via close-circuit TV cameras to a local pub.
Hedges arrested the man, who possessed 307 DVDs, 74 of them of an offensive nature.
FACT director general Raymond Leinster said, “Organized criminal networks are turning to DVD piracy as a means of making large profits, and they have no regard for the content of the material they are selling or who they sell to. In this instance in Kent, the material was illegal pornography and other obscene images being openly sold in pubs and on the street.”