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Digital Playground, Evil Angel Take Down Piracy Operation in Germany

Digital Playground, Evil Angel Take Down Piracy Operation in Germany

Digital Playground and Evil Angel Productions this past week helped German police arrest one of the biggest pirates of adult DVDs in Europe as their mission to eliminate piracy worldwide intensifies.

As a result of the sworn statements of Digital Playground CEO Samantha Lewis and Evil Angel owner John Stagliano, German authorities on Wednesday arrested Nikolaus Kralik, owner of Paradise Film Entertainment GmbH in Muhlhofen, Germany, on suspicion of pirating hundreds of thousands of DVDs during the past two years.

Kralik allegedly ran an elaborate pirating operation through Paradise which illegally duplicated movies produced by Digital Playground, Evil Angel and several other U.S.-based companies. German police raided Paradise Film three weeks ago and confiscated evidence that helped lead to the arrest.

Stagliano said that Evil Angel had already been suspicious of Paradise duping its product and had stopped selling anything new to that company last year.

“We were selling them pieces and they were also taking those pieces and making additional DVDs,” he told AVN.com. “So we stopped selling them a year ago, and at one point in time in 2005 we received a $50,000 settlement from them from us having caught them duping our movies. We also received assurances that they wouldn’t do it again, and yet they continued to do it.

Stagliano continued, “They are a large distributor in the German market and I understand they sell our DVDs outside the German markets.”

Stagliano said that two years ago he had discovered that Paradise was making compilations of Evil Angel material, using scenes pulled from Jules Jordan and Joey Silvera titles and combining them to create a new, illegal product.

“This is a significant step because he was a high-quality duper,” he said. “There still are other people we have reason to believe are duping our product.”

Stagliano added, “The German government goes after dupers and helps the adult industry. The American authorities do not.”

Stagliano said that when his attorney recently attempted to get help from the U.S. Justice Department with a separate pirating problem that it refused to offer assistance.

“We get no such help in America from the FBI or any other agency that protects copyrights,” he remarked.

Both Lewis and Stagliano commended the German authorities for their handling of the Paradise Film matter. The two industry executives were contacted by German police prior to their traveling to Berlin last week for the annual Venus Fair, and they gave statements to police while they were in the German capital.

“I was interviewed for almost two-and-a-half hours,” Lewis told AVN.com. “They showed me all of my product. It was brand new, Island Fever 4, Jack’s POV’s… I was shocked because they were very good copies. They seized over 100,000 pieces last night, and arrested Nikolaus and sent a team of 10 men in there and cleaned out his warehouse of all the product.”

Lewis said her company had been selling product to Paradise since 2002, not long after the company is believed to have begun doing business. The DVD pirating appears to have started around 2004, and has continued for the past two years despite Kralik’s apologies and assurances – that a few times were made face-to-face – that it wouldn’t happen again, Lewis said.

When Kralik’s attempts to buy new product from Digital Playground last year were met with resistance, he began to order product under another company name called New Time, while he used the assumed name, Siegfried Mueller.

“I realized something suspicious about how they were ordering in quantities,” Lewis said, adding that then she compared emails and it became apparent that “they were the same person.”

“When I got to Germany, a lot of other people confirmed he was the same person, and that he was trying to buy product,” she continued. “We were on to him last year and the year before. I had my attorney present at the [AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in January]. He told him, ‘we have great knowledge and proof that you’ve been duping our product.’ He told him that we’re going to prosecute. When we got to Germany, we had been in touch with the investigators on this and they really seriously have a problem with this whole thing. I’ve never seen investigators take this so seriously. They’re passionate about it. They flew in from their hometown to Berlin just to meet with us.

“The police already went into his building three weeks ago, they just needed our sworn statements about how we own our copyright in order for them to go in and do what they did.”

Lewis obtained a list of two-year’s worth of the pirated titles. Click " target="_new" > here to view 2005, and click " target="_new" > here to view 2006.

“I need anyone that can identify their titles on this list to please contact me because we need as much help as we can to make sure that this guy never opens his doors again,” Lewis said. “What’s really important is that {an adult company} did not sell their titles to Nikolaus recently and did not sell their rights to Nikolaus recently. And if that’s the case, and they can identify the titles on this list, they can almost be certain that they were being pirated.”

Lewis continued, “We pretty much have him, it’s over. … I don’t want anyone to be in fear, but I don’t know German law or if he’s going to come and try to impersonate someone else.”

Lewis said German authorities “just want to ID all companies on this list who own the copyrights and give this information to the detective.” The detective will then contact all the companies affected.

The Digital Playground CEO said Paradise was duping an average of 1,000 to 1,200 of a title, and sometimes as low as 300 pieces, especially if the title was a compilation.

“The reason I know they have current titles is I saw what the police confiscated from them three weeks ago,” Lewis said.

“Whoever wants to join in this, we are really heavily coming down on pirates worldwide. We really want to investigate all these people and shut them down.

“This should be a big wake-up call for anyone thinking of doing it in smaller quantities.”

Lewis can be contacted at sam@digitalplayground.com.

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