Bristol pirates caught out in market raid
Together with the aid of the ELSPA and local police, officers from Bristol council and South Gloucestershire Trading Standards launched a successful anti-piracy raid on a Bristol market at the weekend.
Around 15,000 counterfeit PC games, software programs, music CDs and DVDs were seized in the raid, which took place at the Southmeand Hospital market. The pirate goods have an estimated legal street value of a quarter of a million pounds.
An anti-piracy team comprising 41 people descended on the market as traders were setting up their stalls just after 7am. Two men were arrested and held in custody for the weekend, and copied discs were confiscated from five different stalls. The team also issued warrants to remove thousands more discs from vehicles parked near the market.
The raid was carried out in accordance with the 1994 Trade Marks Act, which states that counterfeiting is a criminal act and can be punished with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. Anyone convicted also faces an unlimited fine.
"It has taken a long time to plan an operation of this scale, the biggest we have ever been involved in," said Stephen Meale, trading standards manager for Bristol city council.
"It was a highly successful operation which will have a significant impact in disrupting this illegal trade."
Neil Derrick, senior enforcement officer with South Gloucestershire Trading standards, added: "It is important to send out the message that product counterfeiting will not be tolerated as it can have an extremely detrimental effect on local economies and local jobs.
"It is vital that this market is not allowed to continue as a hot-bed for sales of illegal items."
This is the second anti-piracy raid which the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) has supported in recent weeks. At the start of April they worked together with local police in a raid on a Staffordshire car boot sale, which resulted in half a million pounds' worth of counterfeit goods being seized.
"Piracy is damaging to all levels of the computer and video games market, supplying consumers with sub-standard, unregulated goods which are illegally sold without age and content ratings, allowing potentially inappropriate content to get played by young children," said ELSPA director general Roger Bennett.
"ELSPA wishes to thank all those involved for their work in removing criminally illegal products from the marketplace."
The UK games industry loses Â£2 billion every year as a result of counterfeiting, according to ELSPA. Anyone with information on computer games piracy should contact police, Trading Standards or the ELSPA anti-piracy unit hotline on 08705 133 405.