Pirated videos seized in Mount Vernon


An investigation into the pirating of movie videotapes in Baltimore has resulted in the seizure of 310 videos from a Mount Vernon video shop, the police said yesterday.

According to Detective John C. Poliks of the economic crime unit in the state's attorney's office for the city, the investigation of Mount Vernon Video in the 200 block of West Read Street began when the Motion Picture Association of America received information on its (800) 662-6797 hot line that a number of films rented there were of poor quality, indicating they might have been duplicated without authorization.

Detective Poliks said a search warrant was obtained on the basis of several months of investigation, in which police rented 23 videos at the store and found that 20 of them were unauthorized copies.

According to Mark A. Harrad, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association, investigators from the association are used in the industry's efforts to shut down laboratories that reproduce the videos and shops that subscribe to the illegal operations.

"Ten percent of all video retailers are dealing in pirated videos," Mr. Harrad said. "This represents a $100-million-a-year loss to the industry."

But Baltimore does not appear to be a prime area for the pirating of the videotapes, he said. The spokesman said since 1988 only five video shops had been criminally charged with dealing in pirated tapes.

About 2,000 videotapes have been confiscated locally. Nationwide, authorities have removed about 300,000 pirated videos from store shelves, Mr. Harrad said.

He said spotting the pirated videos had become a difficult job because the people who reproduced them had developed sophisticated machinery.

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