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Man held with 10,000 pirated CDs

By Terry Joseph
January 09, 2004

In what Copyright Organisation (COTT) CEO Allison Demas described as "certainly the largest single piracy bust in this country's history and perhaps the Caribbean," Chaguanas police yesterday detained a man with 10,000 copies of pirated CDs.

"Even we were astonished at the quantity of unlawful CDs culled from this one location," Demas said, "which kind of implies that it is a manufacturing plant rather than the business of a sole-trader or small time operation.

The haul included music from several genres, with back-in-time compilations, soca, chutney, country and western, vintage calypso et al.

Chaguanas police said they had, over time, observed that when stocks of a popular pirated CD were running low, the street sellers simply whipped out mobile phones and called suppliers who would bring fresh stock to the point of sale.

"The raid was mounted after we got a tip-off from one of our members about the factory-type operation," Demas said. "At first we were upset by a lack of co-operation from police officers at the Chaguanas station but after calling Superintendent Farrell, who is in charge of the area, we were offered help from the lawmen, who staged a well-organised raid at fairly short notice."

The pre-arrest investigation involved the setting up of of test-purchase from the supplier and background checks to ensure the person was not licensed to reproduce music.

"We were pretty certain that the operation was unlawful but you can never be too careful, so we went the distance of making these checks to guard against embarrassment and the time we invested paid off," she said.

Because of the unusual quantity of pirated CDs Chaguanas police and COTT officials were still processing the titles and searching their origins up to late yesterday evening.

Demas also praised the vigilance of the member who reported the piracy operation.

Just last month another person was arrested in Port of Spain with 83 unlawful copies a CD even before it was released to music stores.

In that bust, a young man was remanded after he failed to make the $62,000 bail imposed by a city magistrate.

In November, two independent producers of recorded music announced a bounty of $500 for any person reporting unauthorised duplication or sale of their music, raising the stakes for mass-manufacturers of the unlawful recordings.

The producers, Moonasar Chankar and Ajeet Praimsingh, have both invested heavily in local music productions over the past two decades, releasing mainly calypso and chutney hits.

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