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RIAA, MPAA Join Federal Agencies To Announce Nationwide Holiday Enforcement Action Against Counterfeiting

Shoppers Urged to Be Wary of Fakes and Get the Real Thing

WASHINGTON – Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) CEO Dan Glickman and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) CEO Mitch Bainwol today joined U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and other federal officials from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center to announce the recent results from a nationwide federal law enforcement crackdown on counterfeit products. 

The enforcement action, codenamed Operation Holiday Hoax, focused on illegal vendors throughout several major U.S. cities and netted seven arrests and 79,796 counterfeit CDs and 79,610 DVDs.

The operation was hosted by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an ICE-managed task force serving as the federal government’s central point of contact in the fight against counterfeiters and trademark violators. The IPR Center is comprised of officials from various federal agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Departments of Justice and Commerce, Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  

The tremendous amount of illegal material seized served as a reminder to consumers to be on the lookout for substandard products during the holiday shopping season. Industry officials offered the following tips to help holiday shoppers avoid illegal goods and get the real thing:

•    Remember the Adage “You Get What You Pay For”: Even if you are hoping to get your favorite movies or albums at a discount, new or used, extremely low prices might indicate illegal product.

•    Watch for Titles that are “Too New to be True”: Movies that have yet to be released in theatres, or which are still out in theatres, should/will not be available in the DVD format. If very recent titles are being sold on the streets or through an auction or other online retail sites, they are most likely illegal. 

•    Watch for Compilations that are “Too Good to Be True": Many counterfeiters make “dream compilation” CDs, comprised of songs by numerous artists on different record labels who would not likely appear on the same legitimate album together. 

•    Read the Label: If the true name and address of the manufacturer is not shown, it is most likely not legitimate product.  These products often do not contain a bar code. In addition, if anywhere on the package it reads that the disc is an “All-Region,” “0-Region,” or “No Region” product, it’s highly likely that the CD or DVD is illegal. Furthermore, if the record label or movie studio listed is a company you’ve never heard of, that should be another warning sign. 

•    Look for Suspicious Packaging: Carefully look over the packaging and beware of products that do not look genuine. Packages with misspelled words, blurry graphics, weak or bad color should all raise red flags. Inferior quality print work on the disc surface or slip sleeve cover, as well as the lack of original artwork and/or missing studio or label, publisher, and distributor logos on discs and packaging, are usually clear indicators that the product is pirated. CDs and DVDs with loose or no shrink wrap or cheaply made insert cards, often without liner notes or multiple folds, are probably not legitimate product. 

•    Watch for Product Being Sold in Unusual Places: CDs and DVDs sold in non-traditional venues, like flea markets or on the street are probably not legitimate. 

In addition to tips to avoid being duped by counterfeit product, the RIAA and MPAA offer a wide array of legal, hassle-free services where fans can purchase their favorite movies and music at affordable prices. For a list of these services, please visit www.mpaa.org or www.riaa.com. 

“Working together with ICE and the IPR Center, key federal law enforcement agencies and the entertainment industry have struck a real blow to the illegal trafficking of pirated and counterfeit goods during the important holiday season,” said Mitch Bainwol, CEO, RIAA.  “It’s unfortunately an often lucrative ‘business’ that is the breeding ground for other dangerous criminal activity and it undermines our ability to invest in the new bands of tomorrow.  It also takes money directly out of the pocket of working musicians, songwriters and many others who work countless hours to create great music and bring it to the public.  We’re grateful for the hard work and dedication of ICE agents we worked closely with on this important initiative.”

“More than 2.4 million American jobs are supported by the movie and television industry alone. Each of the pirated DVDs shown here today – represents a theft, not just from the motion picture studios, but from the hard earned wages of these men and women working in all 50 states of our union.  In these difficult economic times, that is a price our workers, our industry, and indeed, our nation cannot afford. So we applaud the law enforcement agencies here today for their commitment and dedication to our common struggle,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

According to a report by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), counterfeiting and copyright theft cost the U.S. copyright industries – including the motion picture and sound recording industries – more than $25 billion a year. This translates into nearly 375,000 lost jobs and more than $16 billion in lost annual earnings for American workers. 


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy