(York) Region hot spot for counterfeit movies

Martin Derbyshire, Staff Writer, Stouffville Sun-Tribune

The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association says York Region is quickly becoming a hot spot for counterfeit flicks.

In fact, Markham's Pacific Mall, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized close to $800,000 in counterfeit DVDs this past May, is one of the top places in all of Canada to find pirated movies, according to the CMPDA's director of anti-piracy investigations Gary Osmond.

"It's easily No. 1 or No. 2 in Canada for counterfeits," he said.

Now a number of vendors at the Stouffville Flea Market have joined a growing list of retailers caught selling counterfeits.

York Regional Police, following up on information called into the CMPDA's national tip line, arrested two people and seized another 2,700 counterfeit DVDs during a raid at the Tenth Line market Saturday.

The value of the discs is estimated at $54,000.

Several vendors were found selling knockoff discs of movies recently released and still playing in theatres, police said.

A large quantity of colour-copied DVD sleeve inserts, depicting artwork and studio information similar to the genuine products, were also confiscated.

A 33-year-old Markham man and a 66-year-old Toronto woman are facing charges.

Pirated DVDs cost the industry over $310 million a year and it is not a victimless crime, Mr. Osmond said.

Only one out of 10 movies actually earns a profit and just four out of 10 break even, leaving the industry heavily dependent on DVD, video cassette and pay-per-view sales as major sources of revenue.

"The public sees motion picture companies as making oodles and oodles of money; it's not Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public losing money," he said. "What they don't realize is that these DVDs being sold illegally create large losses for motion picture companies, which means they'll be making fewer movies here in Canada and there will be fewer jobs on set. Some theatres have also closed down because of piracy and that means some teenager won't have a summer job. It has a real effect."

Any DVD of a film still in the theatres is a counterfeit and consumers should avoid deals on DVDs that look too good to be true because they're probably fakes, Mr. Osmond said.

If you see someone selling knockoffs call the CMPDA tip line at 1-800-363-9166. It will investigate and notify local police.