According to ELSPA (the (European Leisure Software Publishers Association) figures, the UK video-game industry loses £3 billion every year to piracy.

In 2001, UK sales of video games, consoles, and other leisure software products reached £1.6 billion – an all-time high, and a 36 per cent rise on the previous year, the association said. Outside the UK, British-developed games generated more than £1.1 billion in retail sales in 2000, ELSPA said, and a third of all the PlayStation2 games sold in Europe originate in the UK. That’s the same proportion as US-originated products, and ahead of Japan or any other country, it said.

Swoop ELSPA’s Web site reports the following event: a police officer called to a “domestic-related incident” noticed a tower PC connected to four CD writers, in the process of copying, and a large number of recordable CDs. He mentioned nothing at the time, but contacted the ELSPA anti-piracy unit and arranged a joint raid on the premises.

In March, police and ELSPA executed a search warrant on the apartment. When they arrived, they found the CD writers busy burning 24 CDs with a business software program.

The PC and CD writers were seized, and a search of the premises found 106 recordable CDs containing business software titles, 28 with music titles, 11 film titles and six with Windows-format games. Five CD carry-cases full of master copies were also picked up.

ELSPA is the watchdog for the computer games industry, set up in 1989 to protect games publishers. Its anti-piracy unit has investigators across the UK.