Thu, Mar 14, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Taichung cops raid book shops looking for pirated material

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nearly 50 Taichung prosecutors, police officers and investigators looking for evidence of book piracy yesterday continued their search of shops providing photocopy services near colleges and universities in the Taichung metropolitan area.

The surprise search began on Tuesday afternoon and follows a request for an investigation from a Singaporean and several US-based publishers to the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office (台中地檢署) in January. They alleged that stores in the Taichung area, which they said had the worst record for piracy in Taiwan, had pirated their publications for years.

The publishers involved are McGraw-Hill Professional Book Group, Pearson Education Co, John Wiley and Sons Inc, Harcourt Inc, the US division of Cambridge University Press and Thomson Asia Ltd of Singapore.

Armed with search warrants issued by the Taichung District Court (台中地方法院) on Tuesday, prosecutors discovered hundreds of original publications together with pirated copies of them and invoices for illegal copying services. These stores are also suspected of pirating books published by domestic publishers.

Prosecutors arrested two store owners yesterday morning, having arrested eight on Tuesday. They interviewed the owners immediately and released them on bail set at sums ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$100,000.

The spokesman for the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office told reporters that the 10 had been released on bail.

Asked whether the police were looking for a ring leader or another person suspected of more active involvement, Tu Da-jan (涂達人), the spokesman, said, "We don't have any primary suspect for the case yet. The case is still under investigation and prosecutors are trying to find more evidence."

The search was the largest in connection with alleged piracy involving students since last April's MP3 case at National Chengkung University (國立成功大學). That case was particularly controversial because prosecutors had not been issued a search warrant.

They nevertheless seized 14 personal computers belonging to students whom they suspected of downloading MP3 music files and selling them, in breach of copyright laws. No one, however, has been charged in connection with the case, although the 14 computers have not been returned to their owners.

Taichung's Feng Chia University (逢甲大學) said that it warns freshmen every year that piracy is illegal, adding that the school's authorities will, if called upon to do so, cooperate with prosecutors and investigators.

"In Taiwan, most people want to finish their education as cheaply as possible. But books do cost a lot and that is why some students decide to copy them instead of buying them," said Ma Yan-bin (馬彥彬), head of the department of public relations at the university.

"We would like to help students to save money, but in the meantime, we also have to tell them that it's illegal to copy a book without authorization."

The university began last year to work with Taiwanese publishers to post the content of assigned textbooks on the Internet so that they are available to users who pay an annual subscription fee to access the Web site.

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