Million-dollar software bust sees guilty plea

A central Auckland retailer has pleaded guilty to charges related to more than a million dollars' worth of illicit software discovered when police raided his Queen Street shop on Wednesday.

A central Auckland retailer has pleaded guilty to charges related to more than a million dollars' worth of illicit software discovered when police raided his Queen Street shop on Wednesday.

Tiong Yew Bak, the 40 year-old manager of the AV Shop at 283 Queen Street, appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday charged with two offences under the Copyright Act. He pleaded guilty and was remanded for two weeks so that submissions could be made with regard to sentencing.

The priated software was on 110 compact disks, 44 of which were compilations, which contain many different applications - and result in the huge retail value assessed on the software. Police believe the disks were counterfeited overseas and imported into New Zealand for packaging.

The police inquiry is one of a number being conducted with the Business Software Alliance and was described by Detective Sergeant Jonathan Moss of the Combined Investigations Unit (CIU) as "a successful operation ... we recovered a sizeable quantity of valuable merchandise and prevented a large loss to software companies."

The BSA says the police raid followed a call to its anti-piracy hotline (0800-101-800) and a subsequent "test purchase" by a BSA investigator. The BSA's complaint to the CIU was acted on "immediately".

Ron Eckstrom, vice president of the BSA, says he is surprised at the extent of the seizure.

"This is the first time we have heard of a retail outlet in New Zealand selling counterfeit software 'over the counter' and in such volume. Software theft of this type is common in Asia but it is unusual for New Zealand."

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