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Europe's Largest Illegal Disc Replicator Raided

16 Jul, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Authorities in Germany have raided what prosecutors believe was Europe’s biggest underground packaged-media replication operation for DVDs, CDs and vinyl records. The retail value of the illegal packaged media confiscated was not disclosed.

The state prosecutor at Würzburg's economic crime department is heading the preliminary investigation against an unidentified person accused of the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted audio and video material on a large-scale basis, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

The anti-piracy music trade group said the investigation, which includes the German Federal Music Industry Association, is ongoing and that the raid uncovered a large-scale “highly professional” production plant with “significant numbers” of CDs, DVDs and vinyl records.

Despite the influx of digital distribution of music, movies and TV shows, packaged media remains strong in Germany, the United Kingdom and parts of Europe as evidenced by the size and scope of the illegal operation, according to Dr. Florian Drücke,  CEO of the GFMIA.

“With a market share of 70%, there is still a high demand for CDs in Germany — this is evident not only in the legitimate business, but unfortunately also on the illegal market,”  Drücke said in a statement. “The equipment found here demonstrates once again that this is not the work of petty criminals, but of professional organizations whose criminal activities inflict massive damage on artists and the recording industry.”

Indeed, 90% ($2.1 billion) of the €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) German consumers spent on video entertainment in 2013 was for packaged media, including 83% for retail sales, Andreas Bork, head of digital and online at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment GmbH, and head of UltraViolet Group Germany, Switzerland and Austria, told a digital panel earlier this year.

Jeremy Banks, director of anti-piracy, at IFPI, said cooperation between law enforcement agencies in Germany helped to uncover, investigate and take action against the underground pressing plant.

“While digital piracy makes the headlines, this case clearly shows that the industry also continues to take action against those who illegally make money through the manufacture, distribution and sale of unlicensed physical media,” Banks said.

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