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Police Reportedly Smash Massive Commercial Piracy Operation in Spain

2326768261_c9e02b6c52_b[1]There are new reports coming out of Spain yesterday that police in Seville and Madrid have shut down a massive piracy ring.

According to the AP:

The investigation follows a complaint from the copyright protection arm of Spain’s authors and publishers association. It said it had detected evidence of a large-scale operation to scan original works. A police statement Sunday said investigators turned up eight large-capacity photocopying facilities in Madrid and Seville where works by prestigious authors were being copied "massively."

It didn’t say when the arrests happened or how much the books were worth in total. But it said over 1,000 published books and 10 computer hard discs full of texts for publishing were seized. The statement said a Spanish police unit focusing on Asian organized crime was involved, though it did not elaborate.


A Spanish language report also added that the police seized two laptop computers, ten hard drives, a USB flash drive, and diverse documentation. It goes on to add that one of those arrested administered five copy shops in Madrid, some strategically located near university campuses.

Does this smell funky to anyone, or is it just me?

When I first read about this story in the AP, it set off a couple alarm bells. Some of the details and the way they are phrased didn’t sound quite true, so I went looking for local coverage. I didn’t find coverage in El Pais or other major Spanish newspapers, but I did find a single story on the topic, and based on how it was written and its similarities to the AP story I have even more questions than before.

For example, if this operation was so large then why didn’t the reports include the titles of some of the pirated books? And if it were so large as to extend across 8 copy shops in Madrid and Seville then why were only 3 people arrested?

There’s more to this story than what we have read in the news, and until we find out what that is I’d suggest taking it with a grain of salt. It is entirely possible that the police raid came as a result of political pressure, and not because there were crimes going on.

On the other hand, the copy shops were reportedly located near universities. If they were pirating textbooks and academic material and selling to impoverished students then it’s entirely possible that this operation was as large as the reports claim.

If you know what is really going on, the comments are open.

image by hermenpaca

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fjtorres June 23, 2014 um 11:23 am

"Manuales didacticos" sounds like textbooks and technical manuals mostly.
Definitely educational materials.
Plus, it sounds like old-school commercial print piracy; the computing gear was holding pdfs.
Which again hints at textbooks.

Scott_Tx June 23, 2014 um 1:07 pm

Text book sellers are the real pirates 😛

Nate Hoffelder June 23, 2014 um 3:27 pm

I would say robber barons, but that range of the spectrum is fuzzy at best.

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