Police have seized about US$1 million worth of contraband and arrested 17 people in the biggest single haul of pirated software in Singapore, officials said yesterday.
Some 124,000 pieces of illicit computer programs, video games and music CDs were recovered Tuesday from a syndicate based in a flat, with 10 retail outlets located in public housing estates.
"This is the largest piracy syndicate police have smashed," a Singapore Police press statement said, adding that more arrests were expected.
It said the Business Software Alliance, a group which fights intellectual piracy worldwide, along with representatives of the computer gaming, movie and music industries, were helping police identify the seized articles.
"Of course we are very pleased by the action taken by the police," said Tarun Sawney, regional enforcement manager for the software alliance.
The suspects arrested in police raids across the island included 16 men and one woman, aged 16 to 58.
Under Singapore law, people found guilty of selling or distributing works which are protected by copyrights or trademarks can be jailed for up to five years and fined a maximum of US$57,000.
"The police do not tolerate such [a] blatant form of piracy activities," assistant superintendent Elaine Ying, head of the intellectual property rights branch of the police, said in the press statement.
"We will spare no efforts in detecting and eliminating the syndicates and [their] members. Intellectual property piracy is illegal but many are tempted to share its spoils," she said. "They are mistaken if they think that the risk is worth taking."
The Straits Times newspaper reported that the contraband was believed to have been usually smuggled by car from neighboring Malaysia.
Malaysia is reputed to be a major source of pirated movies, software and CDs sold in Southeast Asia.
The latest Singapore seizure came one month after another major haul of counterfeit software and movies worth some US$600,000 in the Orchard Road tourist belt, which resulted in five arrests, the Straits Times said.