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IFPI’s Worldwide Director for Enforcement warns Middle East countries about dangers of ignoring anti-piracy measures during recent visit

United Arab Emirates: Monday, April 19 - 2004 @ 11:58

IFPI Worldwide Director for Enforcement, Iain Grant, and other IFPI delegates including Regional Coordinator of Anti-Piracy Enforcement at IFPI Willem van Adrichem, visited Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan to outline areas of concern in each country.

“While we were encouraged by the overall response from the region to the campaign against music piracy, the attitude of some countries to the issue lacked seriousness,” said Mr. Grant, at the end of the visit. “While most countries admit that piracy needs to be combated effectively, the level of enforcement is still relatively low. What many of these countries are not grasping is that piracy affects not only music producers and artists, but national economies as a result of lower investment and rising unemployment due to fewer retail activities. Further, investment climate improves considerably when there is full protection of intellectual property rights.”

Kuwait has one of the highest piracy levels among the Gulf States. In 2003, music piracy for Arabic and international labels in Kuwait reached 60 per cent, and was even higher for Indian titles. IFPI held wide-ranging talks with the Kuwaiti Minister of Information as well as the Director General of Customs. The IFPI team was invited to attend a press conference to announce the setting up of an IPR unit at Kuwait Customs. The team also conducted a training programme for the Customs department on effective inspection methods.

“We applaud the initiative taken by Kuwait Customs to implement an IPR unit. Customs can play a major role in detecting piracy at the borders as well as within the country. We are looking forward to working on a consistent basis with Kuwaiti authorities to reduce piracy levels in the country and we are confident that this initial step will make a big difference in the fight against piracy,” said Mr. Grant.

In Pakistan, IFPI held talks with the Minister of Finance and discussed the alarming piracy situation that was having spill-over effects on other countries in the region. Mr. Grant urged for firm enforcement measures in order to reduce the blatant piracy that exists, resulting in huge losses to the country and the music industry.

“Millions of pirated CD’s are smuggled out of Pakistan on a monthly basis and exported to more than 40 different countries worldwide. Every month, criminals attempt to smuggle tens of thousands of pirated in Pakistan manufactured optical discs, manufactured in Pakistan, into the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Other countries in the region are also heavily affected by these illegal importations,” said van Adrichem.

Jordan, one of the few countries which improved their anti-piracy efforts over the past two years, assured IFPI that more effective enforcement laws will be introduced to combat piracy. IFPI delegates, who had a meeting with the Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister, said Jordan was displaying strong political will to fight music piracy and expected the authorities to introduce tougher laws and even more effective enforcement in the months to come.

IFPI reported that the piracy situation in Lebanon is in stark contrast to the positive developments in Jordan. IFPI’s visit to Lebanon, a country with some of the most alarming levels of piracy worldwide, led to meetings with senior officials. During the talks, Mr. Grant reminded the authorities about the harm music piracy was doing to the industry and the country, and impressed on the need for tough measures and the need for law enforcement authorities to set a good example to citizens.

“It is clear to everyone that the piracy situation in Lebanon is getting worse. It seems that the Lebanese government officials have taken virtually no action against the blatant piracy over the past years. At present, there is still a lack of political will in the country and without it, we are concerned that the dire situation can only worsen. The only positive development is that it seems that some units within the Lebanese Customs are improving their anti piracy efforts,” said van Adrichem.

The common element in IFPI’s tour of the Middle East countries was the message that protection of IPR should be led from the top downwards, as half-hearted measures by a section of the government would not yield the desired results.

“IFPI is concerned about the serious lack of awareness of IPR in the region. This trip helped us understand the ground situation in each country and will enable us to understand what is required of each country and each respective government to ensure a reduction in the alarming rates displayed,” said Mr. Grant. “We are also working with Business Software Alliance (BSA), the organisation that has had a high degree of success in combating software piracy in the region, to focus on all areas of piracy and to devise result-oriented strategies for the benefit of the global and regional music industry.”

On the contrary to most Middle East countries, the UAE is a fine example of government and police officials implementing and enforcing anti-piracy laws and boasts the lowest piracy rate in the Middle East, at around 10 per cent.

The music industry incurs losses of billions of dollars due to music piracy. IFPI has recently singled out the Middle East as a focal point for its anti-piracy campaign, as the organisation represents companies that produce and distribute over 90 per cent of all recordings by Arab artists.

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Monday, April 19- 2004 @ 11:58 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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