Police charge shop owner over allegedly pirated DVDs
July 15, 2004
At a news conference Wednesday at Richmond RCMP headquarters, Cpl. Steve Goss said Simon Lam-Tai Lam, owner of Samson Asia Music in the Lansdowne Mall, was charged with 63 counts of violating the federal Copyright Act.
Goss said if he is convicted, Lam could face a maximum penalty of $25,000 per counterfeit title in fines and two years in jail.
But Lam's lawyer said the DVDs, which were seized last Dec. 17 in what is so far the largest seizure of counterfeit CDs and DVDs in B.C., are not bogus.
"We don't agree that they're bogus," Glen Orris said in a phone interview Wednesday. "We're saying they're not in infringement of any copyright."
Richmond RCMP say the DVDs, which include Asian movies and music videos and such North American titles as Finding Nemo, Sleeping Beauty, Twister, Shanghai Knights and Apocalypse Now, were manufactured and distributed without licence. Goss said it's easy to tell a bogus DVD from the real article because the packaging is inferior, they don't have a correct manufacturer's seal, and often the spelling on the packaging is incorrect.
For example, on one DVD on display at police headquarters, the word "surround" was spelled "surrpund."
Goss also said the
practice is "common in
"Now they're more on the run than they used to be," he said.
According to the Canadian
Motion Picture Distributors Association, B.C. is a hotbed of activity when it
comes to selling and distributing bogus DVDs, and
But Orris said police are acting on incorrect information, and that the DVDs sold by Lam don't violate any copyright laws.
"The police are
getting this information from other people -- primarily people in
"The people we obtained these [DVDs] from may have obtained copyright for them, or have authorized reproductions."
Lam is due to appear in
According to search
warrants, the seizure was ordered following a complaint from Michael Leung,
vice-president of the Long Shong Entertainment Group
The warrant says Leung's
company owns most of the Canadian copyrights for Asian-language pictures in
Jim Sweeny, an
investigator with the Motion Picture Distributors Association, says while
counterfeit DVDs are available everywhere in
countries have been identified for counterfeiting North American movies,"
Sweeny said. "
And it's not just older movies that are produced, Sweeny said. It's no longer unusual, he said, to see movies still playing in North American cinemas available on bootleg CDs. Shrek II and Spiderman 2 are already being sold on counterfeit DVDs at prices well below what an authorized copy would cost.
Goss said police believe most people who buy counterfeit CDs and DVDs know what they're doing, given the unusually low price they pay -- $5 or $10 versus $25 or $30 -- and the quality of the merchandise they're buying.
"I do believe for the most part, people know what they're purchasing," he said.
Both Goss and Sweeny also
said more and more counterfeit titles are produced in
Sweeny couldn't say how
much the practice costs the motion picture industry in
They also say the
practice is no more prevalent among Asians than other cultural groups. But
Sweeny added: "It's well known that if you go to certain parts of
"I think because of the prevalence of piracy in certain Asian countries, mainly due to the lack or enforcement or legislation to discourage this activity, that this product is out there and perhaps those in the Asian community are aware of it because they are from the countries that the CDs come from."
Last August, 25-year-old
Chi Chung Chan was fined $5,000 in
Chan was one of several
people arrested in September 2002 when police with
Last July, Richmond RCMP executed a search warrant on the Chinese Disc Company for allegedly selling counterfeit movies and illegal pornography.
This followed a raid in March of the same company where police found pirated movie titles and disc-burner equipment.
In February 2003, police
seized about 200 suspected pirated DVD movies from Global Pass Communications