SYDNEY — Law enforcement agencies have stepped up their anti-piracy efforts in Australia, launching six separate actions in the past month that included the arrests of two men in Melbourne for allegedly illegally downloading movies on the Internet.
The crackdown follows an organized crime strategy workshop in August when the head of Victoria’s organized crime investigation division, Detective Superintendent Richard Grant, said, “Buying pirate DVDs undermines legitimate business and provides funds to organized criminal networks to engage in other criminal activity.”
Among the recent breakthroughs:
- Queensland Police raided a Brisbane residence and seized more than 700 DVDs from Malaysia.
- Two Queensland University of Technology students returning from China were intercepted at Brisbane airport with pirated DVDs and burners; one was carrying eight DVD-R burners, the other had 1,200 pirated DVD movies.
- Federal officials raided two premises in St. Albans, Melbourne, seizing more than 5,000 counterfeit DVDs as well as DVD burning equipment. One man was charged with copyright offenses and another man and his wife were arrested for an outstanding warrant on a previous movie piracy charge.
The Hollywood-backed Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft commended the state and federal agencies for their efforts to combat counterfeit movie crimes. “Increased cooperation among law enforcement agencies not only across Australia but globally is critical to making progress against the development and expansion of highly networked, well-funded and extremely dangerous criminal gangs,” AFACT exec director Adrianne Pecotic said.
Seizures of illegal discs by customs officials and local police are up in 2004.
The Hollywood-backed Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft estimates that video piracy grew from 4% in 2000 to about 8% of the legitimate market in 2003. Australian Customs seized more than 14,000 imported pirated DVDs in 2003, and have impounded 26,721 this year. Police across Australia have doubled the number of illegal discs seized this year compared with 2003.