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Police seize two million tapes in Egypt’s biggest ever piracy raid

Egypt: Sunday, July 06 - 2003 @ 13:14

IFPI, representing the global recording industry, today commended the Egyptian authorities for their commitment to tackling the country’s very high level of music piracy. Next to the Lebanon, where the piracy rate is almost 70%, Egypt has one of the highest piracy rates in the Middle East region at about 50%.

Gen. Ahmed Fouly, Senior Consultant, IFPI, Egypt said at a press conference in Cairo: “This is excellent work by the Egyptian police, which has resulted in the dismantling of a major network of pirates. Egypt has one of the biggest consumer markets in the Middle East, but this potential is presently being stunted by rampant music piracy. The Egyptian authorities are now showing they take protection of Intellectual Property Rights seriously and are committed to the fight against music piracy.”

IFPI, in cooperation with members of the Egyptian Central Association of Audio Producers (ECAAP) assisted the Egyptian authorities in coordinating the seizure, which followed a month-long surveillance of the illegal music copying operation. The cassettes were all Arabic titles owned by various Egyptian record production companies.

Police who raided the apartment in Giza found culprits actively engaged in the duplication and printing process. Along with the almost two million counterfeit cassettes, one million inlays, one million plastic tape covers, six duplication machines and two printing machines were also confiscated. Police arrested one of the accused at the scene and impounded a van used to distribute the counterfeit cassettes. There is an ongoing investigation into other suspected pirates believed to be involved in the illegal manufacturing operation. The case has been presented to the Prosecutor’s office, which has ordered a committee from the Censorship Department to examine the seized music selection and report to the court.

Egypt’s high piracy rate has been highlighted by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) in its recent report to the US Government as part of the Special 301 review process. The report says: “Retail piracy of entertainment software, business software, music, and motion pictures (including, more recently, on digital carriers like VCD, DVD, and CD-ROM) continues to cause great harm to US and Egyptian copyright owners.”

Although Egypt remains on the US Government’s ‘Priority Watch List’, some progress has been made. The government passed Law 82/2002, better known as the IPR Law, in June 2002 for the protection of intellectual property rights.

“The new IPR Code provides a firm basis for the protection of works and producers of sound recordings, and allows for immediate enforcement against pirates,” the IIPA report said.

Egypt is the traditional heartland of Arab pop music, boasting the majority of the region’s songwriters and musicians and its largest population. Most artists prefer to come to Egypt to produce their records because most of the composers are there, and it is easy to find musicians.

With a market share of about 93%, music cassettes remain the most popular music format in Egypt. IFPI estimates that the level of piracy of Arabic music is about 50% and the percentage for international music repertoire is slightly lower. About 80% of the total legitimate market is Arabic repertoire with the international repertoire taking 20% of the market share.

The international recording industry would like to boost local talent by developing Arab singers and musicians and marketing them internationally. However piracy stunts the growth of this potentially lucrative cultural product, both domestically and internationally.

The recording industry invests hundreds of millions of dollars, up to 15% of its turnover in some countries, in new talent. This investment has risen steadily over the last decade, and local repertoire accounts for nearly 70% of the global music market.

IFPI estimates the illegal copying of sound recordings represents a US$4.3 billion a year, organised criminal trade across the world. IFPI, which represents the companies that produce and distribute more than 90% of all sound recordings by Arab artists, leads the fight against music piracy globally. IFPI has a membership of more than 1,500 record producers and distributors in over 70 countries. It also has national groups in 46 countries.

IFPI represents its members at three levels – international, regional and national. IFPI Secretariat in London is responsible for coordinating international strategies in the key areas of the organisation’s work – anti-piracy enforcement, technology, lobbying of governments and representation in international organisations, legal strategies, litigation and public relations.

It is also the recording industry’s most authoritative source of market research and information, providing a comprehensive range of global industry statistics. The organisation devotes a substantial amount of time and resources to fighting music piracy in all its forms. But crucially, they depend on the support of governments and public authorities such as police, customs, prosecutors and the judiciary.

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Sunday, July 6- 2003 @ 13:14 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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