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Albany pirates were big money enterprise

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April 12, 2004

Dougherty County -- Pirated DVD's and CD's cost legitimate businesses millions of dollars each year. Six people were arrested in a raid on a Dougherty County flea market and confiscated illegally-made movies and records.

Some of the movies seized in Saturday's raid are still being shown at local theatres. Even "The Passion of the Christ" DVD's were being sold for three dollars.

District Attorney Ken Hodges said "We confiscated thousands, literally thousands of DVD's."

Police raided Kitty's Flea Market Saturday morning. They arrested six people running booths selling the illegally copied movies and CDs, while more vendors ran. Two more people are expected to turn themselves into authorities this week.

Hodges said "At least a dozen or more booths out there on a regular basis, and that's in one flea market here in Dougherty County. So yeah, I would say it's very widespread."

You can tell the are not legitimate DVD's by looking at the wrapper, which is poorly applied. Professional DVD's that are real are packaged much better than this.

When you open the DVD package, there's just a plain white DVD. You know there are problems there.

The quality of the DVD's is very poor. The bootleg "The Passion of the Christ", with sound dropouts and grainy video, but it is the real movie. Now investigators are looking for the people making the pirated media. And they don't think they are far away. Hodges said "It's within the state."

Pirated media like these hurt legitimate businesses like the CD Exchange on Dawson Road. Owner James Myler said "That may be some of the reason our sales are down. They can sell brand new stuff still at the theatres that they pirated cheaper than the used stuff we sell."

District Attorney Ken Hodges warns the flea market owners they will be held responsible for more illegal sales. Hodges said "If they continue to allow this to take place, there are criminal charges that can be filed against the owner. And we could utilize forfeiture statutes to seize the property."

Also seized Saturday were black market purses and NBA jerseys. Vendors told investigators they could make three to five thousand dollars a day selling the pirated DVD's.

Two of the men arrested were Nigerians, in the country illegally. The State Department has been notified.

posted at 4:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com