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Monday, March 25, 2002
Movie studios tout first DVD bust in U.S.


A rogue DVD-burning lab was shut down by law enforcement in New York on Friday, the first time that's happened in the United States, according to the movie studios' trade association. The Motion Picture Association of America said it helped the New York police department shut down an unlicensed DVD-copying operation based out of a Bronx apartment.

These types of raids and closures have become increasingly common in the past several years when it comes to videocassettes and illegally distributed CDs. But this was the first such raid on a DVD-production operation in the United States, the MPAA said.

"Pirates seek to profit off the enormous popularity of DVDs by using the latest in technology to illegally manufacture DVD copies of Hollywood films, and again dupe consumers into purchasing a wholly inferior product," MPAA Chief Executive Jack Valenti said in a statement. "We are grateful to the NYPD for their outstanding police work."

The movie industry has ratcheted up the pace of its complaints about online video piracy in recent months, as analysts report that hundreds of thousands of copies of feature films are traded or downloaded every day using file-swapping applications or other means.

But much of the industry's efforts are still dedicated to physical piracy. The MPAA estimates that the industry loses about $3 billion to non-Internet piracy per year. Much of that has come in the form of illegally copied videos, DVDs and video discs in Asia.

The New York raid caught a relatively small fish in its net. Police said they confiscated two computer towers, 15 DVD burners, 1,208 copies of pirate DVDs and about $5,200 in cash. Only one person was arrested.

While many pirate operations do operate on this limited scale, authorities have shut down some many times larger. One of the largest found last year was in England, where police closed a lab containing more than 1,100 videocassette recorders making duplicate copies of movies.

Some of the movies found haven't yet been released to video, including "The Lord of the Rings," "Training Day" and "Ali."


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