More on Motor City

Following up on the rumors I’d heard, Comics Buyer’s Guide has details on the anti-bootleg bust at the Motor City Comic Con.

Around 5 p.m., Michigan State Police, assisted by members of the Novi, Mich., police, raided an estimated 14 different booths in the hall, according to Con Promoter Michael Goldman. Novi officers were seen leading four dealers from the floor in handcuffs, and police said 10 additional dealers were escorted to police headquarters. Dealers were not arrested, but instead brought to the station to provide statements and officially surrender certain merchandise, one such dealer returning to the convention said. Several booths were back in business before the end of the day, police keeping any items on their warrant. … The sudden appearance of uniformed officers and agents wearing RIAA apparel in the hall — and the subsequent searching and complete removal of entire booths — attracted attention throughout the hall, and convention staffers fielded questions from many attendees. Motor City Con 2006 has more than 200 dealer booths and more than 250 creator and media guest tables — and while the number of raided booths was small, they were spread across the long hall, making the raid visible to most attendees. Convention officials said this is the largest Motor City Con in the show’s 18 years. Goldman told CBG that the Motor City Con exhibitors’ agreement clearly forbids the display or sale of bootleg items. A similar raid previously occured at Wizard World Philadelphia.

There’s more coverage and pictures at the link.

I have to wonder… why Motor City? Why didn’t I hear about what happened in Philadelphia? Will we see more of this kind of thing continuing this year? Was this show selected because it has a particular kind of dealer likely to attend, or helpful cops, or someone with a grudge? I’m just spitballing ideas here, but it doesn’t strike me as a major show, so i’m wondering what kind of message is being sent.


10 Responses to “More on Motor City”

  1. Michael Grabois Says:

    Why Motor City? Probably the timing. Maybe they wanted to send a warning shot across the bow of the San Diego and Chicago con vendors. Although, of course, a more effective message would have been to show up at San Diego with no prior warning.

  2. Dwight Williams Says:

    And it might help RIAA’s Canadian branch organization, CRIA, in Toronto when the Hobbystar show in that city rolls around.

  3. Alan Coil Says:

    Why Detroit? Don’t know, but it didn’t surprise me.
    Somebody elsewhere asked who might have placed the call that set the raid in motion. Could have been: any customer, another dealer, one of the celebrity guests, a relative of a customer who got mad about the non-quality of a dvd, etc.

    It was apparent that this raid was not a spur of the moment thing. Also, I know the police that I spotted were there before 4, but I can understand that the promoter might have lost track of the time with all the tension involved.

  4. Lyle Says:

    A friend of mine told me he likes smaller cons better (though, IIRC, he dislikes Motor City) because there’s more bootleg material. He’s not so interested in buying, but he says that, unlike San Diego, the anime rooms are showing, pretty much, one (or two) guy’s collection of anime that hasn’t reached American shores, giving him an opportunity to know what to watch for later. He observed that at bigger cons (ones that the corporations attend) people are a lot more cautious and the programmers don’t have to ask a fan to program the anime room.

    So, why Detroit? Possibly because they’ve realized that pirates are bolder at smaller cons where there are less copyright owners attending.

    (As for San Diego, I believe there was some stuff going on last year, though it was very quiet. I heard a few whispered tales of people seeing corporate reps presenting their card and confiscating bootleg DVDs that violated their company’s copyrights… in one story it was Warner, in another it was an anime distributor.)

  5. Dan Coyle Says:

    Wizard World Philadelphia was 2003, IIRC, and I was there, and I didn’t even hear about it until weeks afterward. They were very discreet. They seem to choose these shows at random.

  6. Lea Says:

    CCI has such a fine track record in dealing with bootleg vendors, the dealer’s room is ripe for a Motor City-like raid.
    In previous years, Randy Bowen’s word that a dealer was selling bootlegs of his kits wasn’t enough. Bowen had to get a C&D.
    Manga artist Buichi Terasawa’s assertion that a dealer selling the Cobra movie couldn’t possibly have a legit copy as it hadn’t been released to ANY home media meant nothing. This was a year he was a guest.
    Waaaay back in 1989, when I was with Gainax, there was a guy not eight tables away selling anime recorded onto grocery store tapes, the titles written on the cases in marker. The room manager, David Scroggy, asked me how I knew they weren’t legit. He did have the guy remove the bootlegs from the table top, but they reappeared.
    Back in 1990 or so, Comic Relief in Berkeley carried bootleg anime. It was in black clamshell cases, the inserts photocopied in black on colored paper. I did say something. It was met with the usual “How do you KNOW?”
    At cons all through the late 80’s early 90’s they were MANY dealers selling bootlegs. One of the tricks was to have legit tapes on the table. When someone bought one, the bootleg (good enough to pass at a distance, but not close up) would be bagged and passed to the unsuspecting buyer.)

    I did not go to ONE con from ’87 through 2000 that didn’t have at least one dealer openly selling bootlegs.
    And some of the anime bootleggers were shamelessly belligerent fucks.

  7. Lea Says:

    I realize none of my examples are recent, but they illustrate a long-standing problem with bootlegging, and a seeming attitude that a dealer with a table is more valuable than a creator or company rep with knowledge and a legitimate concern.

  8. Johanna Says:

    I can see why con staff would think that, though. A lot of shows are run by dealers, and so they have more sympathy with those like them. The dealers are the ones paying them for table space, while a lot of creators and companies get free or greatly reduced space. Plus, ignorance can be a defense if something does happen, so they may not want to know.

    That swap trick you mention where the customer doesn’t get exactly what they think they’re buying is reprehensible.

  9. Judith Reboy Says:

    I have attended the Motor City Con twice, in 2004 and this year.

    Bootlegging was rampant at this show, and the quality of the packaging wouldn’t fool my five year old niece.

    Several of the products being bootlegged were either obviously taped off TV, (“Justice League”, the new “Doctor Who”, etc.) but a large number were things that are available legitimately on DVD, thus negating the arguement usually used by these individuals that they are really public spirited citizens performing a “service”.

    Note: If you pay $5.00 to a pirate for a season set of “Venture Brothers”, don’t cry when Time Warner decides that it’s not worth the expense to make it anymore. DVD sales figures do, in fact, have an impact.

  10. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Continuing followup on the Motor City Comic Con bust… ICV2 has an eyewitness report. [...]

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