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Spain cracks down on pirates

Campaigners lose case in Valencia

MADRID — Spain’s antipiracy crusaders are claiming to have carried out the country’s biggest crackdown on illegal street sales, just as a judge dismissed the prosecution of an alleged vidgame piracy operation.

Marking another step forward in the fight against street sales of pirated goods, police have arrested six Chinese nationals, alleged members of a crime org whose Madrid operations were reportedly capable of producing 80,000 pirated DVDs and CDs daily.

Arrests came after members of Spain’s intellectual property crime squad raided three warehouses in Leganes, Southern Madrid, and a duplication center in Arganda del Rey, just outside the Spanish capital.

The law enforcers discovered 155,000 CDs and DVDs, some copied, and 240 duplication machines. Revenues from the operation were worth around e240,000 ($362,880) a day, according to Spanish police.

Parallel to this, however, a Valencian regional judge has just come down in favor of a local shop that sold vidgame consoles that had been modified to play bootlegged games.

The shop also offered computer chips to adapt consoles, particularly the Sony PlayStation.

Adese — the Spanish Assn. of Distributors and Publishers of Software Entertainment, whose members include Sony Computer Entertainment — had appealed against an earlier judgment acquitting the shop from piracy charges.

The Spanish judge argued that the modifications could be made for legitimate activities, “such as converting consoles into PCs.”

“Ninety-nine percent of consumers who ‘chip’ consoles do so to play pirate vidgames,” Adese general secretary Carlos Iglesias told Daily Variety. “The ruling destroys the antipiracy work being carried out. Videogame pirates will feel they can act with even greater impunity.”

Iglesias puts Spanish vidgame piracy at 50% of total business.

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