Recording Industry Calls for New Anti-Piracy Partnership with Government Enforcement Authorities

IFPI Press Release, March 21, 2000

Edinburgh, Scotland – March 21, 2000

The international recording industry and enforcement authorities should join forces to stop the alarming spread of CD and software piracy across the world, an influential conference of law enforcement officers was told today.

The call came from Jay Berman, chairman of IFPI, the organization representing the recording industry worldwide. IFPI is participating in the 3rd International Conference of Criminal Intelligence Analysts (ICCIA) in Edinburgh. The conference marks the first time the music industry and law enforcement have come together at such an event to publicly discuss their common concerns.

Berman said, “Intellectual property piracy is the big global growth crime of today. It is backed by sophisticated, organized crime syndicates; it is nurturing the drugs trade and other forms of serious crime; it is robbing governments and economies; and it is undermining the belief in the rule of law. The only possible way to fight it is to form a partnership between the recording industry and enforcement authorities, so information is shared and enforcement can be made more effective.

“We now have incontrovertible evidence that criminal gangs involved in music piracy are also involved in other kinds of serious crimes such as drugs and firearms, credit card fraud, money laundering and violence.

“The pirates are investing vast amounts of money in music and software piracy – and they are lured by the perception that music piracy is a low risk, high return, business. Together, we have to put an end to that perception.”

Pirate music sales, predominantly of CDs, are estimated to be worth $4.5 billion. There has been a massive proliferation in pirate traffic in the last three years, spurred by the involvement of organized crime syndicates and a huge manufacturing over-capacity in optical discs. Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Hong Kong, Israel and Italy are among the countries most affected.

ICCIA is organized by the National Criminal Intelligence Service in the UK and is the premier event for law enforcement agencies worldwide, attended by over 600 professionals in the field. The event provides a crucial forum for serious crime investigators to look at potential problems in the future and examine ways of combating the increasingly international operations of organized crime. Sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis, and cutting-edge technology are needed to combat the problem.

Industry Response

IFPI’s member companies concluded in 1997 to build up a global enforcement structure to tackle the problem. Three years on, IFPI has developed the in-house background intelligence, and resources capable of supporting the police and prosecutors responsible for enforcement.

Iain Grant, head of IFPI Enforcement Department said, “The music industry now has at its disposal a team of professionals with strong law enforcement backgrounds working in a highly coordinated global network. We are building databases for intelligence and analysis, and have a newly developed forensic facility.”

There has been increasing evidence of the involvement of organized crime in music piracy in the past two years. Most recently in the UK, a year-long investigation by IFPI and City of London police resulted in six members of a Russian syndicate being arrested in January this year. In addition to seizing thousands of illegal music CDs, police officers uncovered one of the largest forged credit card manufacturing facilities seen in the UK.

Such cases are becoming more commonplace around the world. The growing sophistication of such smuggling operations was underlined by the discovery of a submerged, air-tight craft entering Hong Kong waters from Macau, specially modified to transport pirate optical discs — a favorite technique of drug smugglers.

International Music Piracy – Key Facts

  • Globally it is estimated that one in three recordings is a pirate copy.
  • The illegal music market is worth an estimated US$4.5 billion a year.
  • In its annual piracy report of 1999, IFPI highlighted 20 countries now in its high band category of a piracy rate of 50%, compared to 14 the previous year. They included Ukraine. Israel and China.
  • Optical disk manufacturing capability stands at over 16 billion units, having quadrupled in the past five years — massively exceeding legitimate demand.
  • In many countries copyright legislation is inadequate, and sanctions and fines are too insignificant to deter pirates, bearing little relation to the profit potential and are simply viewed as a cost of doing business.

For further information contact:
Adrian Strain, Director of Communications, IFPI: 44 171 878 7939

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