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EARLY MORNING RAID AT MARKET NETS COUNTERFEITERS

Joint operation results in seizure of 15,000 illegal discs and 2 arrests

Wednesday 27 April 2005/... An early morning raid at one of Bristol's biggest open-air markets on Saturday resulted in the seizure of 15,000 counterfeit PC games, software programs, music CDs, and film DVDs with an estimated legitimate street value of a quarter of a million pounds and the arrest of two people.

The raid at Southmead Hospital open-air market in Bristol involved officers from Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards Departments working with Avon and Somerset Police, ELSPA and other anti-piracy investigators from the music and film industries.

A team of 41 people descended on the market just after 7am as a number of known sellers of counterfeit products were setting up their stalls in preparation for a full day's trading. Two men were immediately arrested and held in custody over the weekend. Five market stalls were cleared of their stocks of copied discs. In addition a number of warrants were executed on vehicles parked near the market stalls from which thousands more copied discs were removed.

The operation was carried out under the provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1994 which criminalises product counterfeiting, the maximum penalty on conviction for which is 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. In addition, all counterfeit items seized will be forfeited by the traders involved.

Stephen Meale, Trading Standards manager with Bristol City Council said: "It has taken a long time to plan an operation of this scale, the biggest we have ever been involved in. We are extremely grateful for the co-operation of our colleagues in South Gloucestershire as well as the Police and anti piracy investigators from the various industries affected by this type of activity. 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."

Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA commented: "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. ELSPA wishes to thank all those involved for their work in removing criminally illegal products from the marketplace."

ELSPA (The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) represents the interests of the UK games publishers. It has a dedicated anti piracy unit with investigators based across the UK and often works closely with the Police and Trading Standards to combat computer games piracy.

Anyone with any information on computer games piracy should contact the police, their local Trading Standards Office or call the ELSPA anti piracy unit hotline on 08705 133405.

EDITORS NOTES

About Software Piracy and its negative impact on both consumers and industry

It is estimated that over £2 billion is lost every year by UK industry to games software counterfeiters.

Local and national jobs are lost as result of pirate operations.

Piracy/counterfeiting is illegal and punishable by fines and jail sentences.

Counterfeited/pirated games are often mixed with obscene or pornographic material.

Consumers have no recourse under law for faulty pirated games, which can damage hardware.

Proven links exist between many organised counterfeiting organisations and dealers in drugs and pornography.

About ELSPA - http://www.elspa.com

ELSPA (Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

For further information on ELSPA or to arrange interviews, please contact:

DEBORAH COSTER / EMMA COWIE

BARRINGTON HARVEY

Tel: 01462 456780

Fax: 01462 456781

Email: debi.coster@bhpr.co.uk / emma.cowie@bhpr.co.uk

Issued by: Barrington Harvey, Trooper's Yard, Bancroft, Hitchin SG5 1J

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