Police in Cyprus have begun a long-overdue campaign against many of the Mediterranean island's CD and DVD pirates, the Motion Picture Assn. confirmed today (Jan. 17).

Police in Cyprus have begun a long-overdue campaign against many of the Mediterranean island's CD and DVD pirates, the Motion Picture Assn. confirmed today (Jan. 17).

The action began Dec. 29 in the capital of Limassol where police and customs officers raided 17 shops and seized more than 42,000 counterfeit CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and PlayStation games.

This was followed on Jan. 5 by a joint police and Cyprus Federation Against Copyright Theft raid on 10 kiosks and two stores in and around Nicosia; 1,561 DVDs, 12,666 CDs, 808 PlayStation games and 28 CD burners were seized. Four days later, the same agencies raided another store in Nicosia and seized around 4,300 DVDs and CDs, two CD burners and a DVD burner.

"The Cypriot authorities have finally started to respond to repeated requests to take action against the rampant piracy on the island," said Dara MacGreevy, the MPA's Brussels-based VP and regional director Anti-Piracy.

Local rental dealer Costas Constantinou said he was delighted by the raids. "It's been a really good start to the year," he said. "I'm really happy because unless something is done about these pirates, legitimate businesses like mine cannot compete."

MacGreevy said that despite the adoption last April of increased penalties for copyright offenses, and the creation of a small anti-piracy squad at police headquarters last June, the local industry has been frustrated at the almost total absence of police enforcement activity.

According the IFPI's most recent Commercial Piracy Report, domestic piracy levels in Cyprus was measured in the 25%-50% range.