New York Cops Shut Down CD, DVD Bootlegging Operation

In what music and movie industry leaders say is a significant blow to the nation's piracy market, police on Thursday raided an office and a garage, confiscating 208 CD and DVD burners and about 40,000 bootlegged discs.

What they uncovered was the second-largest CD-burning lab in the United States and one of the largest movie pirating labs in the country, said the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, whose staffs helped local police.

Among the films being illegally reproduced were some not yet officially released on DVD, including "Snakes on a Plane" and "World Trade Center." The music ranged from Latin to gospel.

But only one person had been arrested in connection to the group that ran the copying outlets, which the RIAA's staff investigators said they began uncovering in March.

The suspect, 19-year-old Abdouraitamance Diallo, of the Bronx, faces a charge of trademark counterfeiting, police said.

Diallo is a major player in the group, the RIAA said. A phone listing for Diallo could not be found Thursday night.

The group, which did not have a formal name, essentially acted as a wholesaler, capable of producing more than 6,000 CDs an hour and selling the discs to people who would then peddle them in flea markets. It frequently changed its production locations and distribution centers, authorities said.

"The more we can minimize the availability of pirate product, the more we help protect artists, record labels and everyone else involved in making music and ensure a positive, high-quality experience for fans," said Brad Buckles, executive vice president overseeing RIAA anti-piracy efforts.

The biggest CD-burning lab busted was found recently in Atlanta, RIAA officials said.

The director of U.S. anti-piracy operations for the MPAA, Mike Robinson, said in a phone interview that the CD pirates thrive because consumers are willing to purchase their bootleg products.

"For us to eliminate this activity we really need to convince the public and cause them to think about what they're doing when they make those purchases," he said.

New York is considered a hub for music and film pirating, a phenomenon the industries say costs them billions of dollars a year.

RIAA and MPAA officials said they worked with the New York Police Department's Trademark Infringement Unit to gather enough information and evidence for search warrants.

The first warrant was executed Thursday morning at a Bronx garage, where police found 23 duplicator towers, similar to computer hard drive towers, containing the burners.

The second search warrant was served hours later at a Manhattan office. At that location, investigators found the 40,000 discs, about 40 percent of which were DVDs, the MPAA said.

The RIAA is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. The MPAA represents the film and television industries.