According to ELSPA’s forensic experts, the disc is the first of its kind discovered in the UK. It has been appearing for approximately four-to-six weeks, but no Nintendo DS discs such as those seized at Hull’s Walton market have previously been found.
The raid, part of a collaborative effort to clampdown on the increased presence of counterfeited goods at the market, was carried out by officers from Hull CID, Hull Trading Standards, the Riverside NPT (Neighbourhood Patrol Team), ELSPA (the Entertainment Leisure And Software Publishers’ Association) IP Crime Unit, MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society), and representatives from Adidas and Nike worked together to identify illegally copied games, music and counterfeit clothes.
The approximate value of the software on the disc, should a member of the public purchase it in a High Street shop, is £6,000.
A number of people were interviewed by local Trading Standards officers after being found selling counterfeit clothing and footwear and will be prosecuted. Part of the operation involved the confiscation of counterfeited goods from traders who fled from the market, leaving their stalls and stock behind as officers entered the market.
John Hillier, who heads up ELSPA’s crime unit, said: “Piracy costs the games industry dear – just like that of any other entertainment industry. Making good and inventive games is an expensive and creative process, with some titles today costing £20m or more to develop. To make a quality title involves teams of highly skilled professionals, from programmers and graphic artists to voice actors and musicians. When a pirate sells illegally copied games they undermine the viability of our industry. The worst-case scenario is that pirate activity could cost the jobs of some of the creative talent and that would be a catastrophe.
“There are other things which the public should be made aware of about counterfeit games. Some of them will damage hardware, such as PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii consoles. Others will not play in PCs and consoles at all or, if they do, the quality of the graphics or gameplay mechanics may be impaired. Finally, pirated software comes with no quality assurance – so if the games do not play properly then retailers and publishers will not replace them.”
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said: “Walton Street has recently been plagued by criminals selling illegally copied games, music and clothing. ELSPA would like to thank local Trading Standards and all other attending authorities for their efforts in stamping out illegal products from the marketplace and helping protect legitimate traders.”
Det. Sgt Reed of Hull CID, said: “We have made big inroads into the market now and it is our intention to keep raiding it. We’re going to meet with Trading Standards and see whether we can make this a regular thing.”
Mike Pindar, Trading Standards officer for Hull City County Council, said: “Local traders have gone out of business as a result of these counterfeiters and people who buy from them. The people who lose out are the retailers and the public. We’re going to be very active on counterfeiting and it is only a matter of time before these people receive a visit from the police and ourselves.”
A spokesman for entertainment chain HMV said piracy was costing the industry “hundreds of millions of pounds”. He added: “If people visit record stores they will find the price of DVDs and CDs has come down so significantly there is no reason for people to pay a couple of pounds less for pirate copies, which are low quality and support criminals.”