A new shopping mall catering to electronics buyers just opened last Friday, September 15, in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo. The building is located downtown about 300 feet from the São Paulo headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service.
The São Paulo state Finance Secretariat together with the Internal Revenue Service decided to pay a surprise visit on opening day to the Prestes Maia gallery building bringing along 40 agents, military policemen and City Hall inspectors.
They even facetiously called their unexpected raid "Operation Avant-Première." And there was a big catch: although only 20% of the stores were operating on the first day, 70% of them were carrying pirated and counterfeited material like computers, software, CDs and DVDs.
Sérgio Mazzoni, regional chief of the Finance Secretariat, informed that the police and IRS agents seized around US$ 116 million in illegal products including computer hardware and software, electronic devices, pirated CDs and DVDs as well as toys, clothes and leather articles.
The catch may have been much bigger weren’t for the fact that only 15 of the 90 stores of the shopping mall were operating. The IRS agents and City Hall inspectors left with the warning that they will be back in the coming days to continue the cleaning up operation in an effort to counter illegal and pirated trade in the city.
The Business Software Alliance, which congregates the heavyweights of software including Microsoft, announced that 64% of all software sold in Brazil in 2005 were pirated. This is 29% more than the world average for computer programs piracy. This meant a loss of US$ 766 million to the Brazilian software industry, last year.
In August alone, the Brazilian authorities seized at least 95,000 pirated CDs together with computers and hard disks used for their production in more than 50 antipiracy raids in large cities around the country.
According to the Abes (Brazilian Association of Software Companies), the BSA (Business Software Alliance) and the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), in August, 55 search and seizing operations were conducted in several Brazilian cities including São Paulo, Campinas, Ribeirão Preto all in São Paulo as well as the capital cities of Recife (Pernambuco state), Curitiba (Paraná) and Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul).
Last month, the three associations were able to close down 24 Internet sites that were selling pirated software. Besides, with the help of the Brazilian authorities they succeeded in taking off the air more than 3,000 advertising pieces selling the bootleg material.
"In August alone we registered a growth of 45% in the number of delations compared to the preceding month," announced Emílio Munaro, Abes’s antipiracy group coordinator.