Police bust alleged CD, DVD pirate operation
Published Thursday, March 6, 2008 11:15PM EST
WINNIPEG - Police in Manitoba have shut down what they call a sophisticated CD and DVD pirating operation that has long been a thorn in the side of the Canadian music industry.
The seizure Wednesday of more than 200,000 CDs and DVDs from the production shop of Winnipeg-based Audiomaxxx.com is likely Canada's largest in the a decade, says Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
"This is drawing gasps,'' Henderson told The Canadian Press on Thursday.
Until Wednesday's haul, the Canada's largest seizure was about 10,000 counterfeit discs, he said.
"This is the biggest seizure, by about 20 times. This is huge.''
The website, which allowed customers to order CDs or download music for $3.99, had a significant catalogue of music. It included popular artists including Shania Twain, Lionel Richie, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and Nelly Furtado along with specialty music, like reggae and hip-hop.
Independent producers and smaller record labels, including some from the Caribbean, played a big part in pushing the industry and the police to investigate, Henderson said.
"Their whole market was being chopped out from under them in the Caribbean, by stuff made in Canada.''
For a fee of $5.99, the website apparently had another specialty.
"Audiomaxxx had three x's at the end, I believe, and that's for a reason. There was a lot of pornography as well,'' said Henderson.
Investigators believe the operation extended well beyond Canada and the Caribbean. It's alleged products were also being shipped to Central America and Europe.
"This business was a serious thorn in the artists' world, and (for) major label. Basically, today is a very positive day from their perspective,'' said RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish
A 31-year-old man from Winnipeg was arrested Wednesday after the Audiomaxxx.com raid. The man's name was not released by police because he has not been formally charged.
Police say they are investigating three others.
About half of the discs officers hauled in Wednesday appeared ready for sale. The disc burners that were also seized, according to police estimates, produce 11,500 discs a day.
"And this is on a conservative basis,'' Karpish said.
Under Canada's Copyright Act, it is illegal to manufacture CDs, DVDs and digital downloads for sale, rent, distribution or public exhibition.