The findings were made available by the IFPI in its Commercial Piracy Report 2004. The music industry’s global trade body issued a “wake up call” to governments in 10 priority countries around the world where piracy is found to be endemic, to enact and enforce laws in an effort to curb this practice.
It is estimated that one in three CDs bought by customers worldwide, in 2003, was a pirate copy, with a street value of more than US$ 4.5 billion, nearly 15 per cent worth of the global record market. Tackling music piracy has been severely hampered by corruption, apathy of law enforcement agents and lack of political will.
Growing piracy concerns in the Middle East
In the Middle East, political disinterest, combined with a lack of effective enforcement for intellectual rights, continues to result in ever-increasing piracy levels.
Cassettes remain the most popular pirate music carrier. However, optical discs piracy is clearly on the rise. Lebanon registered the highest level of music piracy in the region with 70 per cent followed by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
The Lebanese situation remains grim despite several raids by the government. The lack of prosecutorial follow-up to such raids show copyright crime in Lebanon is still not taken seriously. The Kuwaiti market is the worse hit in terms of retail piracy. With piracy figures hovering around 60 per cent and issues relating to intellectual property rights being given the lowest priority by the authorities, the problem remains rife in the country. In Saudi Arabia, concerted government action led to the seizure of more than 600,000 pirate music carriers, but absence of deterrent penalties for intellectual property violations and the complete lack of transparency in the judicial system prevent the actions from having any sustainable impact.
Stefan Krawczyk, IFPI Director Middle East & North Africa said: “Piracy is robbing countries of billions of dollars in investment and taxes. Combating high levels of piracy in the Middle East region is a priority for the international recording industry as the region’s highly creative music culture is being decimated, especially with the advent of new technologies like the CD-R that make piracy easier. We call on the governments in the region to resort to truly effective and sustained enforcement, enact deterrent sentences against copyright thieves, assure effective regulation of optical disc manufacturing and, above all, demonstrate the political will to make sure real change happens”
The music industry in the region is, moreover, facing new threats. With consistently lower entry thresholds to acquiring technologies and with faster Internet access speeds, Internet piracy is likely to begin to affect the Middle East. In January 2005, IFPI will be addressing the issues surrounding illegal file sharing with a report on the effects of Internet piracy.
Encouraging signs despite record levels in global piracy
Global sales of illegal music discs rose by 4 per cent in 2003 and the global average of piracy rate increased to a record 35 per cent. Encouragingly, music disc piracy in 2003 registered the slowest rate of growth in four years, indicating that enforcement efforts by industry anti-piracy teams, and by some government enforcement agencies, are beginning to show an impact. There were also record levels of seizures of discs, 53 million in 2003 as compared to 13 million in the previous year. More than 12,000 CD stampers were seized in 2003 – six times more than the ones in 2002.
Jay Berman, IFPI Chairman and CEO said: “Despite an encouraging slowdown in growth in 2003, commercial music piracy dominates large segment of the world’s music markets. This illegal trade is funding organised crime and fuelling widespread corruption. The responsibility now is for governments – and especially on the 10 priority countries our report names – to act decisively against the problem.”
IFPI top ten priorities
The report has singled out ten priority countries Brazil, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine where wholesale anti-piracy offensives are most urgently needed. The report also outlines new evidence of suspected involvement in piracy by government, judiciary and civil service employees.
In terms of pirate sales value, the list is topped by China, with the largest pirate market (worth around US$ 600 million) and Russia, with a US$ 330 million market and a massive international exporter of pirate CDs to some 30 countries. Mexico and Brazil also feature prominently in the list as countries that were until recently among the world’s top 10 largest legitimate music markets but whose music industry, artists and workforce have been decimated by CD-R piracy. Pakistan has entered the list for the first time after having evolved in last three years into one of the world’s largest manufacturers and exporters of discs replacing Poland.
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