WASHINGTON-A fatal car chase on November 10 between a convicted felon in Virginia wanted by authorities on several criminal charges including cocaine possession yielded hundreds of pirated CDs and DVDs in the man’s trunk, giving rise to a new kind of traded drug, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Inc’s Dennis Supik.
"A lot of people we were arresting had drug conviction backgrounds. Actually, what they said was, ‘This is the new drug on the street,’" said Supik, an MPAA field investigator who assists local law enforcement in anti-piracy raids.
MPAA investigations teams routinely uncover evidence demonstrating that many of the gangs and syndicates involved in hard goods piracy are also heavily involved in other forms of illegal activity such as drug dealing. In September, Los Angeles police arrested Jose Maria Trujillo for possession of six bundles of powder cocaine, an ounce of marijuana, and selling illegal DVDs after a search of his car uncovered more than 2,000 pirated DVDs. During the same month, Federal and local authorities in New York arrested approximately 21 members of the violent Chinatown street gang "Yi Ging" who were involved in DVD and CD piracy as well as narcotics trafficking, loan sharking and other crimes.
In a 2003 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on International Relations, Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble stated that the global trade in narcotics is estimated at $322 billion, while the global trade in counterfeit goods is estimated at $512 billion.
"Intellectual Property crime (IPC) is a lucrative criminal activity with the possibility of high financial returns. It is also relatively low risk as prison sentences tend to be light when compared to other criminal activity such as drug trafficking," Secretary General Noble said in his testimony.
"We are aware that serious criminals are profiting from the illegal sales of DVDs. These types of operations are supporting networks of drugs and other criminal activity that we do not want on our streets," said MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman. "The MPAA is working aggressively to root out piracy in all corners of the globe so that unfortunate events driven by this illegal activity are halted and the public is made safer."
Working with law enforcement around the world, the MPAA seized more than 76 million illegal optical discs in 2004. A federal interagency report published that same year estimates that counterfeit and pirated goods, including those of copyrighted works, cost the American economy $250 billion a year. The MPAA estimates its member companies lost $3.5 billion last year due to piracy of hard goods alone, not including losses from illegal file-sharing on the Internet.
The MPAA and its member companies are tackling the major problem of piracy with a multi-pronged approach which includes educating people about the consequences of piracy, taking action against Internet thieves, working with law enforcement authorities around the world to root out pirate operations and working to ensure movies are available legally using advances technology.
About the MPAA
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries from its offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Its members include: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Paramount Pictures; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios, LLP; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.