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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 13:42 GMT
Meet the music pirate
Fake CDs can look like the real thing
Can you spot the fake CD? It is on the right
test hello test
By BBC Go Digital's Tracey Logan
As far as pirates go, Steve does not cut much of a dash.

He is just an average guy, in his late 30s, who loves music and does not see why he should pay for it when he can get it for nothing.

Amidst the suburban chic of Steve's living room in Essex, UK, I ask him if there is any recording artist whose music he would not rip off.

"Certainly not!" comes the swift reply.

Good-looking fakes

Steve the pirate - he would not give his surname - boasts a 400-strong CD collection.

Steve has copied more than 100 CDs
Steve sees nothing wrong with what he does
Around 100 of these are copies he has made using a standard PC. What impressed and surprised me most was the look of his clones.

He values the packaging, wants his collection to look good, and uses any number of easy to find websites to download covers for his hand-made albums.

All you need is a colour printer, a pair of scissors and some glue and you can create a fake CD that is hard to tell from the one you buy in the shops.

Add it all up and Steve has done the record industry out of approximately 1,500.

Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that are doing just the same as Steve and you can see why they are such a thorn in the record industry's side.

And Steve is not even involved in downloading music off the internet. He complains that his 56K dial-up modem is too slow for that.

Ringing the changes

Steve is hardly a Mr Big of the criminal world and it might be a public relations disaster if the record companies were to go after people like him.

He does not think of his activities as harming anyone.

And yet he seems concerned when I tell him that music counterfeiting is one of the factors leading the record industry towards a radical re-think of the products they will sell in future.

Tracey Logan presents Go Digital
Tracey Logan: Impressed by quality of copies
Last week a UK Government report, written by the University of Surrey, spelled out some of the changes on the horizon.

Called Monetising Anarchy, it demonstrated that the technology people are using to listen to songs is making music an increasingly "virtual" commodity.

Record companies are thinking less about their musical products as objects that you take home from the record store and stroke lovingly in eager anticipation of that first play.

The industry is thinking instead about tracks you will want to buy digitally with new media components such as music videos, games or competitions attached.

They are thinking about licensing music like software and that could mean the death of the album, as we know it.

How does Steve the pirate react to the concept of the death of the album?

"No, I can't imagine that happening", he says.

See also:

26 Feb 02 | New Media
Piracy blamed for CD sales slump
08 Feb 02 | New Media
Music industry's digital plans 'fail'
12 Mar 02 | New Media
Trouble ahead for music industry
01 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Music's digital future
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