NEW YORK — Redirecting its legal energies momentarily from the ongoing assault against online file-sharer Napster, the Recording Industry Assn. of America said it has helped to bust a Gotham-based ring of counterfeit CD distributors.
The U.S. Secret Service, assisted by the RIAA’s antipiracy unit, turned up more than 20,000 already-recorded CD-Rs at illicit makeshift distribution operations in Queens and Manhattan, along with the 1,200-odd master discs used to record them.
Among the titles being unlawfully duped were works from Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z, Santana and the Beatles. The RIAA said charges are pending against two suspects involved in the distribution scheme.
The RIAA and the Secret Service also nabbed a king’s ransom in high-tech hardware, including more than a hundred CD-burning drives, a half-dozen computers, two industrial-strength color copiers and a host of printing and wrapping gear.
Org, which represents the major music labels that sell more than 90% of all the recorded music worldwide, said the Queens and Manhattan operations had the capacity to crank out nearly 3 million bogus CDs annually, costing the industry an estimated $47 million.
The fake discs are typically sold by street vendors of major cities like New York for no more than $5 each — a deep discount on the $17.98 typically paid at retail outlets for the real thing.