GrayZone - Quarterly Digest - July-September 1998

Headline News | Quick Bits and Bytes | Busts and Raids
Artists Corner | Worldwide Update | Internet News


Headline News

IFPI Offers $10,000 Reward in Romanian Piracy Case

The stakes increased in the ongoing battle against piracy in the underdeveloped nation of Romania recently when IFPI announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the one or more individual attackers of a Romanian Sony licensee, Sorin Golea. Mr. Golea had filed a complaint with the Romanian Copyright Office concerning the sale of the "World Cup 1998" album, and there is a suspected link between the two incidents. According to Iain Grant, IFPI's Head of Enforcement, "IFPI has been fighting piracy throughout the world, and our message to anyone producing music illegally in Romania is that we are now watching more closely than ever." Mr. Golea sustained a broken nose, two lost teeth and required hospital treatment as a result of the attack.

(IFPI Press Release, August 11, 1998)

[For more information, contact:
Catrin Hughes, Director of Communications, IFPI
Tel: 011 (44) 171 878 7900/02]

MPMan: A New Hi-Tech Gadget

MPMan is a small portable digital recorder/player--similar to a Walkman--that stores up to an hour of music in solid state memory. Using the MP3 music format [see "Music Industry Concerned With MP3 Dilemma" in this issue], the need for music cassettes and CDs is eliminated. Users can plug the units into their computers to download copies of songs from their hard drives. MPMan has no moving parts and uses flash memory to play back songs. However, the MP3 music format is widely used for music piracy on the Internet and many record industry executives are concerned that MPMan will inadvertently boost net interest in the MP3 piracy and bootleg sectors. The proverbial jury is still out on this new hi-tech toy, but industry officials are keeping a close watch on the device as it finds its way into the marketplace.

(Network/IFPI, Issue 2, July, 1998)

Breaking News: - RIAA Files Action Against MP3 Device Manufacturer


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Quick Bits and Bytes

Zero Tolerance in Action

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has wasted no time implementing its new Zero Tolerance program, first announced this past February. In its recent Network report, IFPI outlines a "get tough policy," citing impressive anti-piracy accomplishments in Hong Kong and the USA (in conjunction with the Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA]). In one Hong Kong anti-piracy operation, which involved a series of raids on five different locations, a staggering 22 million compact discs were seized, estimated to be worth US $100 million.

(Network/IFPI, Issue 2, July 1998)


Studios Get $52 Million In Cable Piracy Case

A New York judge awarded Hollywood's biggest studios a total of $52.3 million in a case against a manufacturer of cable TV descramblers that allowed people to view pay-TV channels for free. The devices, made by AllStar Electronics Equipment Corporation, enabled viewers to watch HBO, Showtime, STARZ!, The Movie Channel in addition to many pay-per-view services for no additional charge. The judge also issued a permanent nationwide injunction which prevents AllStar from selling or making cable decoders or related equipment.

The following studios are involved in the case: Columbia Pictures, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures Corp., Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., United Artists Corp., United Artists Pictures Inc., Universal City Studios, Inc. and Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment, L.P.

(Daily News/Yahoo, Thursday June 4, 1998 - Christopher Stern)


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Busts and Raids

Twice Convicted Bootlegger Sentenced

Robert Lee Gibson, a twice convicted bootlegger, was sentenced by the United States Federal Court in Pittsburgh to a 10 month jail sentence. Involved in the case were the Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and the RIAA. A well-known veteran bootlegger, Gibson was also arrested in 1996 by the Pennsylvania State Police Department for a similar offense. Gibson was selling copies of unauthorized live performances by Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana, the Dave Matthews Band and others.

(RIAA/Fast Tracks, June 23, 1998)



Illegal Software: Biggest Bust Ever for Microsoft

German authorities seized $56.21 million in pirated software, according to officials at Microsoft. The seizure was the largest ever made of counterfeit Microsoft products in Europe, said a spokeswoman for Microsoft's legal offices in Unterschleissheim, Germany. Operating in England, a 38-year old Texan identified only as "S" controlled several premises that illegally copied software CDs. "S" was arrested after German customs officials at the Dutch border stopped his truck, which was carrying 36 palettes of counterfeit Microsoft CDs, diskettes and manuals.

(ABCNEWS.com, August 10, 1998 - Reuters)

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Artist's Corner

Counting Crows Promote Official Bootleg

Counting Crows, a2b music(sm), DGC Records, Tower Records Online and Electric Artists teamed up recently to launch an Internet promotion that featured two new full-length CD-quality singles available for download. Two different versions of their single "Angels of Silence" from their new album "Across A Wire: Live in New York City" are available at the bands' official website: http://www.countingcrows.com/.

(Paradigm Music Entertainment Press Release, August 14, 1998, [Contact Wayne Rosso for more information: 212-387-7700 or via e-mail: [email protected]])

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen Prepare Official Bootlegs

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are preparing official bootlegs in time for the holiday buying season. No stranger to beating the bootleggers at their own game, Dylan first released his own "Bootleg Series" box set in 1991, to critical acclaim. Springsteen also released 1986's "Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Bank Live/1975-85." Dylan's upcoming "Bootleg Series, Volume 4" features his famous (and much bootlegged) May 17, 1966 live performance from Manchester's Free Trade Hall. The concert is famous because it captures Dylan's mid-60s transition from folk hero to rock star. According to press reports, Springsteen has been working on a box set said to include more than 100 unreleased recordings, due for release in November, but the contents of the set haven't been confirmed.

(Ticketmaster.com, July 21, 1998; ICE, September, 1998)


Worldwide Update

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Poland

Police Steamroll Pirate CDs

Polish customs police used a steamroller to destroy approximately 5,000 pirate CDs that were seized in market raids in the Lodz region. Pirated music constitutes around 40% of Poland's total music market. Much of the product is smuggled in from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic or countries of the former Soviet Union.

(ClariNet/Agence France-Presse (June 23, 1998)

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United Kingdon

Essex Trading Standards Wins Award for Excellence

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) has awarded Essex county the Trading Standards Departmental Award for 1998. The ACG is a trade association with approximately 200 members which represents the interests of companies--whether manufacturers, distributors or retailers--that suffer from the activities of counterfeiters.

(Essex: "News From The County" press release, June 4, 1998)

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Internet News

Hilfiger Sues Wal-Mart over Internet Sales

Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc. and Tommy Hilfiger Licensing, Inc. have taken court action to prevent Wal-Mart and Sam's Wholesale Club from selling counterfeit Tommy Hilfiger apparel over the Internet, in contempt of a 1996 court order mandating that Wal-Mart stop infringing Tommy Hilfiger trademarks. This is the third time that Tommy Hilfiger has brought trademark infringement charges against Wal-Mart. According to Joel Horowitz, Chief Executive Office of Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., "It is outrageous for a company of Wal-Mart's stature and sophistication to harm consumers by engaging in counterfeit commerce, particularly over the Internet, where Tommy Hilfiger does not presently authorize sales of its products. It is all the more outrageous when it does so repeatedly."

(Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc. Press Release, Monday, June 22, 1998; Yahoo, June 23, 1998 - Reuters/Wired)

IFPI Sweden Locks Horns with MP3 Infringers

IFPI Sweden sent Cease & Desist warning letters to approximately 100 MP3 site-owners and almost every infringer has closed down the site or deleted the illegal sound files.

(Network/IFPI, Issue 2, July 1998)


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