Hank Investigates: Counterfeit Crossing
Federal law enforcement sources have confirmed to 7News, a six hour State Police raid seized thousands of counterfeit videos, CDs and DVDs, illegally manufactured and illegally for sale. Whatís more, a long-term 7News undercover investigation of the same store and others, reveals these places have been flooding the market with pirated movies.
It's a jackpot of counterfeit DVDs CDs and videos, all are hot high grossing hits, all for sale in several Downtown Crossing stores and all are illegal counterfeit copies and should not be for sale.
We first bought the pirated films last winter, taking an undercover camera for our investigation of store after store in Downtown Crossing. Starting in March of 2002, in the shadow of a Boston police kiosk, we easily found illegal versions of the most popular and unreleased movies.
The movie industry confirms these are fakes.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Investigative Reporter
"So, this movie we're watching right now, is this a counterfeit?"
Larry Ferezzoli, Motion Picture Assoc. of America
"Yes, it is."
Back then we purchased, "Lord of the Rings" and "Vanilla Sky", while they were still in theaters, months before the home video release date, but cheap and available.
We got "Star Wars", "Spiderman" and "Scooby Doo" and then we showed the Secret Service, as part of the electronic crimes task force, our purchases.
Hank Phillippi Ryan
"We easily bought these in Downtown Crossing, should we have been able to do that?"
John O'Hara, U.S. Secret Service
"No, it's a tragedy that these are openly availableÖ I am both concerned and surprised."
Motion picture industry investigators confirmed, these pirated copies are costing the industry hundreds of millions a year.
Hank Phillippi Ryan
"So, they're literally stealing the studioís product and making money for themselves?"
"Yes, it is a copyright matter and a violation of state and federal law."
The videos cost half the price of a legitimate movie, but they're no deal. Often the quality is shockingly, even hilariously bad. In "Showtime" you can see the shadow of a audience taking off their coats. What that means is, someone simply went into the theater with a camera, like they did with "Black Hawk Down", recorded the film, dubbed it and sold it.
We found some, like "Oceanís 11", are screening copies. Look at "Lord of the Rings", itís a promotional video apparently stolen from the studio and reproduced. "The Count of Monte Cristo" we bought has no picture, "Vanilla Sky" and "Ice Age" were completely out of focus.
Law enforcement officials promise more raids are in the works.
"What we've got to do is make sure the threat of getting caught and prosecuted is more important than the financial gain they might get from it."
But even today in another Downtown store, we purchased "The Two Towers" and "Maid in Manhattan", the movie industry knows you can catch one counterfeiter, but dozens more will be dubbing away.
"Thereís a tidal wave coming our way and we have to get ready for it."
As for the store raided last night, that is now empty. Neither the AG's office nor the State Police will discuss it or any potential arrests. Remember, pirated movies and compact discs affect everyone, to make up for losses, the entertainment industry just raises prices at the box office and the music store.
For more information on counterfeit movies and compact discs or to report cases of pirating go to the following sources:
Electronic crimes task force:
New England tipline: 617-565-6642
Website: click on regional locations, page down and you'll see boston/ new england http://www.ectaskforce.org/
Motion picture association of America: http://www.mpaa.org/home.htm
Recording industry association of America http://www.riaa.org/