Raids in London have led to the closure of a sophisticated large scale printing operation, printing covers for counterfeit DVDs, and the UK’s largest ever illegal DVD manufacturing facility in a joint operation with the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police and FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft).
Following a major investigation, a commercial printing operation in Wembley, North West London was raided last week and a significant number of printing plates, used to produce the covers, were seized. Titles that had been printed included Watchmen, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader and Gran Torino.
Four people were arrested in connection with the large-scale production and distribution of counterfeit DVD covers and money laundering and have been released on police bail. FACT estimates the commercial business has printed millions of covers over the past year.
The arrests and seizures by officers from City of London Police’s Central Detective Unit follow another raid at a large illegal DVD factory in Southall, West London in February, which resulted in the arrest of five people and the seizure of large quantities of copying equipment and discs.
420 DVD burners were confiscated together with other equipment. In addition, there were approximately 60,000 burned and packaged DVDs ready to be despatched. Many of the discs featured the latest Hollywood blockbusters, including copies Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk, which had just been released at UK cinemas.
The counterfeit DVDs, which are usually sold for approximately £3 each, are known to generate substantial criminal profits for those involved in their production.
Also in the premises were 38,000 blank DVDs and one million printed covers.
City of London Police’s Det Chief Inspector Dave Service said: “This operation provides further evidence of the scale of the organised criminal networks involved in DVD Counterfeiting and how big a problem it has become. This type of criminality is often looked upon as a victimless offence. However the proceeds gained are massive and can be used to fund other criminal operations while substantial damage is inflicted on the film industry, and on the UK film industry in particular.”
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said: “The illegal factory in Southall would have been capable of generating a criminal profit in excess of £1 million per week and we know there are dozens of such factories operating across London and in other cities in the UK. FACT is working in partnership with the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police to take out those criminal organisations and individuals who are seeking to profit from this illegal trade.”
Executive Producer of Quantum of Solace, Callum McDougall, said: “We have a hugely valuable film industry here in the UK, and we have to do whatever we can to make people aware of the impact of purchasing fake DVD’s or illegal downloads.
“The UK film industry provides huge benefits to hundreds of external suppliers, film and television facilities, creative advertising agencies, television stations and also to tourism – We have seen the damage already caused to the music industry and we have to continue to make the public and government bodies globally aware of the damage that will happen if DVD piracy is not brought under control.”
To report the manufacture or sale of counterfeit DVDs call the charity CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods team.