The Middle East, a growing area of concern for IFPI, will be a major focus area in 2004 after the last regional meeting of IFPI, held in Beirut in 2004, revealed alarmingly high levels of music piracy in the region. Kuwait will be of particular focus after research by IFPI found that the country has one of the highest levels of piracy in the Arabian Gulf states. Music and other forms of copyright piracy are rampant in Kuwait. Music and software executives indicate that the present situation results in a loss of US$ 100 million to both industries in 2003.
Commenting on the industry’s global strategy for 2004, Willem van Adrichem, Regional Coordinator, Anti-piracy Enforcement, IFPI, said: “At the regional IFPI meeting in February 2004, we demonstrated our strategic focus on the Middle East region for 2004. We initiated new steps and awareness campaigns to highlight the growing menace of piracy in the region. Unfortunately, countries like Kuwait and Lebanon are still not sufficiently tackling the problem. There are positive exceptions however, particularly for the Customs authorities in Kuwait and Lebanon, who are being proactive in identifying shipments of pirated optical discs at an early stage.”
One of the key messages in IFPI’s global strategy is to highlight across the region that the entire music community worldwide is suffering from piracy and that this is having a seriously negative impact on creative development and investment. Music sales fell by 10.9% worldwide in the first half of 2003. This stems from traditional piracy, as well as illegal file-sharing and massive home copying of CDs. Out of the total amount of music, video games and movies obtained in Kuwait in 2003, it was revealed that a staggering 85% was pirated material. This leads to job losses throughout the music and entertainment industry, affecting not just musicians and record producers but also retailers, technicians and journalists.
“The industry must fight back. IFPI have been leading this fight by initiating schemes worldwide such as sending copyright brochures to schools and colleges and working with other organizations to drive home these important messages. IFPI established the www.pro-music.org website in May 2003 as a resource for people in the music industry and for anyone who would like to find out how to download music legally and learn more about the dangers of piracy. The Middle East is a region that is still largely unaware of the knock-on effects of piracy and we intend to work with regional organizations and governments to tackle the growing problem that affects us all,” van Adrichem added.
In order to promote and enhance creativity in Arab music across the Middle East and North Africa region, as well as to protect the rights of the Arab music industry, the recording industry has also decided to launch “The Arabian Music Academy (‘AMA’). The AMA is a regional membership-driven initiative endorsed by the Government of Dubai. In addition to organizing the Arabian Music Awards, the AMA will also lead campaigns on critical issues affecting the Arab music community as well as consumers, such as labeling, legislation, protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), home taping, piracy and censorship concerns,” said Shuckri Bundakji, Chairman of the IFPI Middle East & Northern Africa Committee.
“It is a critical year for the region. As music piracy increases we are constantly battling against it and it is important and essential to create awareness of the damaging effects that piracy has on the music industry,” van Adrichem added.
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