Copyright cops raid 21 homes and businesses

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Alleged counterfeiters in the sights of law enforcement and trade groups.

Against the backdrop of raids on alleged counterfeiters today, Australia's private copyright enforcers arced up their rhetoric against piracy, sharing the stage with the Australian Federal Police in a coordinated campaign to raise awareness of intellectual property theft.

Acting on tip-offs from trade groups, the AFP raided 21 homes and businesses of those suspected of distributing counterfeit and pirate goods in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide seizing software, discs and PCs law enforcement alleged held pirated music and films including illicitly transmitted sports content.

"This is a warning that if you are selling these goods you may be subject to a police investigation for committing intellectual property crimes," said AFP acting manager of crime operations Stephan Obers.

He said the maximum penalty for copyright and trademark offences was five years and two years, respectively.

The Business Software Alliance, Music Industry Piracy Investigations and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft shared the podium at the AFP's National Enforcement Day event to condemn infringing counterfeit products.

"High-quality counterfeit software is an increasingly sophisticated form of software piracy that is difficult to detect," said Microsoft Australia intellectual property director Vanessa Hutley.

Executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft Neil Gane said "movie piracy is not a victimless crime".

The federation was engaged in a court battle with iiNet over what it alleged was the No.2 ISP's refusal to enforce Hollywood's copyrights.

The Business Software Alliance last week redoubled its attacks on alleged infringers, naming and shaming three businesses it alleged pirated its members software and encouraging disgruntled workers to inform on their bosses.

Microsoft was forced yesterday to backpedal on its harsh anti-piracy tactics in developing countries after it was revealed that Russian authorities used the guise of copyright prosecution to silence government critics.

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