U.K. Police Halt Massive DVD Piracy Operation

Matt O'Conner
LONDON — Police are claiming the largest DVD piracy bust in England’s history following the raid of a factory that contained 500 DVD burners churning out an estimates 2,700 DVDs every hour.

Four men and one woman were arrested in the operation, launched in February.

More than 300 titles were discovered among the stacks, ranging from children’s animated movies to adult features, as well as illegal bestiality videos. Police said nearly one-third of the DVDs being copied contained adult content, but did not mention specific brands.

Police reported 30,000 blank DVDs at the site and say they have observed constant traffic of blank DVDs entering and pirated DVDs leaving the building. They estimate the operators were copying as much as $425,000 worth of DVDs a day, based on a street value of $9 per DVD.

Illegal burning operations have become such a massive problem in the U.K. that the Metropolitan Police last year created a special Film Piracy Unit, believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

When the unit was announced, a police spokesperson said an estimated 77 million pirate DVDs are produced in the England every year, making it the world’s second-biggest black market — trailing only the U.S.

Ironically, homegrown underground operations began sprouting up as a result of England’s success in stopping pirated DVDs from entering the country from Asia.

According to England’s Federation Against Copyright Theft, Asian pirates found it easier to get themselves into the country than their burned DVDs. Illegal Chinese immigrants, in particular, moved their operations to England, beginning in London and spreading to Wales and Scotland.

Three Chinese men were arrested earlier this year after police raids uncovered a massive pirate DVD manufacturing and distribution ring. More than 100,000 DVDs were seized, along with 200 DVD burners capable of manufacturing 20,000 DVDs a day and seven printers for producing labels and covers.

The five individuals arrested in yesterday’s raid also were Chinese illegal aliens.