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"It just doesn't make sense for any record labels to put any stores out," adds Williams. "They didn't really ask who's responsible until after everybody who would have been responsible left. It was just sloppy. And they left grease all over the floor from their pizza."
What surprised Kim's employees most was the relative randomness with which the police arrested peopleespecially when they could have taken down those most directly responsible for the ordering of mix tapes and the on-site making of DVD bootlegs. "They kinda misunderstood the size of the store," explains a Kim's employee. "They thought this was the only store. They didn't really have it together. Because once they realized there were other stores, they were upset that [the stores weren't] raided all at once. So when they were grabbing the managers, they had assumed that the managers were responsible for buying. That's why they grabbed the wrong people."
Williams adds, "They did a sloppy job. They didn't get any of the responsible people. If they had to arrest somebody, they definitely just arrested whoever was right there." In addition to Bettis, police arrested music manager Craig Willingham and three store clerks.
Buckles explains: "It's my understanding that the employees who were charged were involved in the burning, or were making sales where they were knowingly going around the regular inventory system. They weren't salesclerks who were ringing things up as they go by them; they were salesclerks who were ringing them up, seeing what it was, and ringing them up special because they knew that they had to be treated differently."
Kim, however, says the mix tapes were not treated differently from other store merchandise. "They were part of inventory I found out, but they are a very, very little part. As I said, 51 titles, as I counted, seized by policewe have 120,000 titles."
Though no non-music DVDs were seized, Williams believes the Motion Picture Association of America may have played a role in the raid as well; an MPAA spokesperson confirmed their presence at the raid. Buckles added, "We've quite frequently worked with MPAA. As the equipment and the raw materials needed to engage in piracy have merged, so have the operations."
As for the nature of video bootlegging around New York, Williams had this to say: "There's other smaller video stores that do it too, have a couple of bootleg movies of things that aren't available. I mean as soon as something becomes legitimately available, [they] always replace the bootlegs. [They] don't like having them, but when things aren't available, that's why [they] have them, and everybody knows that."
Immediately after the raid, Mr. Kim's other stores took action. According to Williams, despite a similar raid that occurred at their store nearly seven years ago, Kim's Video does not plan on buying or selling bootlegs anymore. The store plans to fill with music imports the shelf space that had formerly been used for mix tapes.
"If you have any idea about Kim's," explains Mr. Kim, "[it] is very well-known for underground artistsmusicians and filmmakers. We are the biggest supporters nationwide for the underground artist. We always support their work before they become very famous. We have a strong platform for those underground filmmakers and musicians. The hip-hop that the police seized has a very little platform for those artists. Otherwise I don't see what we did wrong at all. Period. We are serving the poor, young, very experimental artists nationwideI should say the world wide."
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