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£38,000 PENALTY SHOWS GAMES PIRACY DOESN'T PAY

Authorities work together to bring long-term games counterfeiter to justice

Friday 8 October 2004/... A two-year piracy investigation conducted by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Trading Standards supported by ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) came to a successful close at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, with a notorious counterfeiter being fined a total of £42,000.

Marco Granata of Granville Close, Wallasey, Wirral pleaded guilty to 30 counts of Trade Mark offences in respect of counterfeit Nintendo Game Boy Advance cartridges, and was fined £7,500 for the charges, prosecution costs of £5,847, and a further £28,964 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Forensic examination of his computer revealed that he had made over £24,000 through Internet sales of counterfeit games at the time of the raid.

Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA commented: "ELSPA is determined to stamp out computer and video games piracy around the country. This result shows that in the long run, pirates do not profit from their illegal activities. We would like to thank Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council for bring this investigation to such a successful conclusion."

The offender, a 46-year-old air traffic control assistant at Manchester airport, was raided in July 2004 following an investigation into his website offering pirated Nintendo cartridges. The raid revealed 668 games as well as the ability to manufacture many more with components imported from Thailand. It was the first time ELSPA had encountered a home 'factory' for producing the Game Boy cartridges. Granata first came to the attention of ELSPA in 1998 for offering 'chipping' devices over the Internet.

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, pornography and terrorism.

About ELSPA ®€" http://www.elspa.com

ELSPA (The 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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