TRADING Standards officers today revealed they had smashed what they believe to be the biggest house-based CD and DVD counterfeit racket in the country.

Tens of thousands of DVDs and CDs were seized by officers when they raided three addresses in the Audley and Brookhouse areas of Blackburn.

The items were described by staff from the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society, which investigates counterfeiting on behalf of the entertainment industry, as the 'master library.'

They said it could be used to create massive quantities of cheap fakes which were then sold on the internet.

Computer equipment used for the copies -- which enabled the whole Top 40 album chart to be put on one CD -- was also seized as evidence.

Three people were arrested and questioned at Blackburn Police Station. They could now face copyright infringement charges, which would be brought against them by Trading Standards.

The raid, which took place in the early hours of Thursday morning, was the culmination of a six-month long investigation by the MCPS Anti-Piracy Unit -- the organisation that monitors the illegal use of the works of composers and songwriters -- and Blackburn with Darwen Council trading standards.

Maureen Bateson, executive member for citizens and consumer rights, said "This successful operation shows, yet again, that this authority will not tolerate counterfeiting and piracy.

"Such illegal activities have a serious detrimental effect on legitimate local, businesses and we will take a tough stance on those involved".

Nick Kounoupias of the MCPS Anti-Piracy Unit said: "Our grateful thanks go to Blackburn with Darwen Trading Standards Service for their support and dedication over the course of this investigation which has led to this successful raid.

"This was a major counterfeiting operation - those involved were likely to have been making considerable profits.

"Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime -- it affects the earnings of our songwriter members as well as those of local retailers and their staff.

"We also have evidence of the proceeds of some counterfeiting operations being used to fund other criminal activity like drug dealing.

"As such it can cause many other problems for local communities."