Operation Tripod yields arrests

Piracy raids in Asia nab 3.3 million discs

Law enforcement agencies have wrapped a huge dragnet of counterfeiters across the Asia-Pacific region, which involved 1,303 raids targeting the production, distribution and sale of pirated pics.

The Motion Picture Assn.’s Operation Tripod extended across 12 countries and was launched in early May and ended June 30 and resulted in the seizure of more than 3.3 million pirated optical discs and 4,181 optical disc burners, as well as the arrests of 874 suspects.

While the studio’s efforts at controlling piracy in Asia are beginning to take hold in terms of traditional methods of distribution, the Internet is presenting new challenges.

According to the MPA, the seized optical disc burners were capable of producing hundreds of millions of pirated optical discs in a single year.

As well as the industrial side of the business, Operation Tripod also targeted the illegal camcording of movies in cinemas, and the MPA worked closely with exhibitors around the region to implement anti-camcording security measures that ensure movies are protected, not stolen, in the environments in which they are shown, the group said in a statement.

“Over the past three years, the MPA’s bi-annual anti-piracy sweeps have collectively resulted in nearly 4,500 arrests and 30 million pirated optical discs seized,” said Mike Ellis, senior veep and regional director for the MPA in the Asia-Pacific.

“As a result of the strong commitment to intellectual property rights protection by law enforcement agencies and governments around the region, Operation Tripod has resulted in reduced availability of illegally pirated movies, which so badly damage sales of theater tickets and homevideo products.”

Unsurprisingly, China led in the number of pirated optical discs seized at 1,187,456, while the Philippines also had high figures with 738,551 discs seized. In Thailand there were 318 raids conducted and 280,632 discs seized with 225 people arrested, while Malaysia had 180 raids, 246,700 discs seized and 192 arrests. In India there were 198 raids, 263,210 discs seized and 220 people arrested

During the past two months, 18 arrests have been made in the Asia-Pacific region in relation to the illegal camcording of movies in cinemas, the MPA said.

“We plan to continue to conduct aggressive enforcement action throughout the year with our local police, Customs and other agency partners, and will initiate another Operation Tripod-style anti-piracy push at the end of the year,” Ellis said in the statement.

The MPA reckons that its member studios lost $6.1 billion to worldwide piracy in 2005. About $2.4 billion of this was accounted for by bootlegging, $1.4 billion to illegal copying and $2.3 billion to internet piracy.

Of the $6.1 billion in lost revenue to the studios, about $1.2 billion came from piracy across the Asia-Pacific region, while piracy in the U.S. accounted for $1.3 billion.

In 2006, the MPA’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region investigated more than 30,000 cases of piracy and assisted law enforcement officials in conducting nearly 12,400 raids. These activities resulted in the seizure of more than 35 million illegal optical discs, 50 factory optical disc production lines and 4,482 optical disc burners, as well as the initiation of more than 11,000 legal actions.


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