A large stockpile of counterfeit music has been discovered in the southern Germany town of Esslingen. Authorities have taken into custody a 60-year-old man who they say has been using profession equipment to manufacture fake copies of physical music for years. Late last week, investigators raided a large storage facility filled with more than 8,000 boxes containing two million illegally manufactured CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records, which the accused had evidently produced in Poland and other Eastern European countries. According to police, the illicit goods weighed several tons.
The man sold the pirated goods through the Internet and numerous record exchanges frequented by rare vinyl seekers. Numerous machines and devices required in the production of the contraband have been seized. After receiving a tip-off from within the piracy scene, the German Federal Music Industry Association (BVMI) commenced investigations together with police and other authorities. Under the code name "Mitschnitt", they discovered the highly professional structures and then stepped in to put an end to them.
The pirated goods feature a veritable "who's who" of legendary international artists, including the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, Kiss, Joe Cocker, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Rammstein, Depeche Mode, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen and many others.
Working in conjunction with Hamburg-based law firm Rasch, BVMI discovered all the distribution channels and seized an estimated one million vinyl records that were still stored in boxes. Experts estimate that the loss caused by the illicit goods is in excess of EUR 30 million ($31.8 million). However, there has been no official confirmation of this figure.
According to police sources, the accused man, who sold the pirated goods like a normal wholesaler, faces a prison sentence of up to five years.
BVMI managing director Dr. Florian Drücke told Billboard: "After more than a year's investigative work, the matter was reported to the Stuttgart Public Prosecutor at the end of October 2015 by the Law Firm, Rasch, on behalf of the rights holders... Vinyl has become very popular in Europe. Now, we are facing the challenge of clamping down on the illegal markets. Accordingly, we will be stepping up our investigations even further."
Vinyl is experiencing something of a renaissance in Germany. Last year saw a surge of 30.7 percent, resulting in sales of 50 million euros, up from 38.3 million euros the previous year. That means vinyl accounts for 4.7 percent of the physical market and 3.2 percent of the total market in 2015.