Delhi-based distributor Penguin says police busted two major book piracy rackets, seizing a number of counterfeit bestsellers, including 8,000 copies of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood


NEW DELHI, India -- Police here have busted two major book piracy rackets, seizing a number of counterfeit bestsellers, including 8,000 copies of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Delhi-based distributor Penguin India said Aug. 2.

The action follows the extensive pirating of the latest installment of the series in China the previous week.

According to Penguin, agents for "Harry Potter" publisher Bloomsbury United Kingdom, multiple raids were conducted July 31, leading to the arrest of five people under India's Copyright Act, which carries a two-year prison penalty for publishing piracy.

In an interview Aug. 2, P. M. Sukumar, Penguin India's senior VP, sales and marketing, said, "We were aware that the new 'Harry Potter' book would be affected by piracy but we had taken preemptive action. Our law firm Akash Chittarnashi & Associates had been conducting surveillance operations India-wide and they zeroed in on the Delhi pirates who seemed to be the main hub of operations. The police have been very cooperative which led to the arrest of the culprits."

Sukumar also said that a raid the previous week in Mumbai yielded 2,000 illicit copies of the book being sold by street hawkers in the city.

Since its July 16 Indian release, 160,000 legitimate copies have been sold nationwide, according to Sukumar. "The sales of this book are almost double the previous 'Harry Potter' installment and with our stringent anti-piracy operations, we hope to cross 200,000 units this year," he added.

Police identified the man accused in the Delhi raid as Rajeev Tomar, who is alleged to have masterminded the printing operation that yielded a total haul of 34,000 illicit copies of various best sellers, including the "Harry Potter" book.

Tomar allegedly was planning to sell the "Harry Potter" books across the country at less than half the original price of 895 rupees ($20) with some pirated copies selling for as little as 175 rupees($4).

According to police, the seized material, including a press, binding and cutting machines and pirated books, was valued at 140 million rupees ($3.2 million).