Pirates turning to Internet amid massive crackdown

A long campaign to remove pirated goods from shop fronts in Asia is finally having an impact, but the crackdown has also changed the nature of the problem and new outlets are flourishing, an AFP report said.

The report said the results of police raids, a slate of new laws and increased prosecutions could be seen across the region on the back streets of Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore and, to a lesser extent, Phnom Penh and Hanoi.

For example, not too long ago, outside Beijing's notorious and now closed down Silk Alley lane, any visitor would be mobbed by hawkers of every kind offering the latest films and music for as little as $1 a pirated disc, the report said.

On a recent visit, not even one hawker was to be seen.

The success in forcing the pirates at least off the street if not out of the market followed intense pressure from the US and the West on Asian governments to clean up their act, the report said.

Vendors hawking copied Hollywood blockbusters, Hermes Kelly bags, fake Viagra, or home-made auto spares passed off as original parts were hurting, said  Su Chun-hung, a deputy police chief in Taiwan.

To counter the authorities, black market buccaneers were shifting their goods from roadside stalls and shopping malls to the Internet. Su's team now also conducted "daily patrols of Internet sites," the report said.