Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Scent Gives Malaysian DVD Pirates Away"

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A gang of pirated DVD makers tried to hide in a palm oil plantation, but Malaysian authorities caught a whiff of their crime — literally.

Police officers were conducting a routine patrol in the plantation in southern Johor state Tuesday when they detected an unusual odor, said Nor Hayati Yahaya, the Malaysian representative of the Motion Picture Association, a U.S.-based film industry group.

They traced the strong smell — caused by polycarbonate chemicals used in manufacturing optical discs — to a DVD bootlegging operation in a warehouse, Nor Hayati said Thursday.

Police arrested four men working in the location — which was believed to have operated for at least half a year — and seized manufacturing equipment and 6,200 pirated DVDs, including new Hollywood hits such as "Bee Movie" and "American Gangster," Nor Hayati added.

Officials believe intensified clampdowns on movie piracy may be prompting bootleggers to move their operations from industrial areas, Nor Hayati told The Associated Press.

"We have been raiding them. So obviously they are scared," she said. "They took the trouble to go to that extent of camouflaging their activities."

Fueled by demand, illegal DVDs — which often sell for less than a quarter of the retail price of legitimate discs — are common in illegal outlets in Malaysia, mainly in residential areas.

The government says 5 million pirated discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids last year.

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