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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Hunting the music pirates
CDs for sale
Five per cent of UK music sales are counterfeit
Music piracy has increased by 25% world-wide in the last two years alone. BBC News Online looks at the measures being used to fight the pirates in the UK.

Whether your taste in music is pop, rock or classical, you can be sure to find a pirated copy in countless markets and car boot sales up and down the country.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimates that 640 million counterfeit CDs were made world-wide in 2000.

Clamp down

The problem in the UK is not be as bad as in countries such as China, Mexico and Italy but millions of pounds is being lost to British music companies and musicians as a result of piracy.

Young people have to learn that copying a CD is as bad as stealing from a shop

Nick Kounoupias, MCPS
The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) - which works to ensure copyright owners are paid for the use of their music - is at the vanguard of efforts to clamp down on piracy.

It is working with other industry bodies to fight the burgeoning market in fake CDs.

Nick Kounoupias, head of litigation and anti-piracy operations at MCPS, said developments in technology has meant that "young people and computer geeks" were increasingly copying, duplicating and selling counterfeit CDs.

He said: "The problem in the UK is not as widespread as in other parts of the world but the trend is upwards.

"About 5% of the UK market is pirated material."

Countless raids

He said a different type of criminal is being drawn to music piracy.

"People who used to do home taping are increasingly copying and selling CDs illegally.

Counterfeit CDs on sale at a market
Counterfeit CDs on sale at a market
"Young people can download music files from the internet, copy them onto a CD and then duplicate countless other CDs very easily.

"But the penalties are harsh - recently a music pirate was sentenced two and a half years in jail for copying."

The anti-piracy unit of the MCPS is involved in countless raids of markets up and down the country.

Mr Kounoupias said: "We raid big markets time and time again - it is like carpet bombing."

Effective methods

Last week more than 6,500 counterfeit CDs were seized during a raid on a market in Yorkshire and four men were arrested.

CD copying
Technology has made CD copying easier
"That was a relatively minor operation," said Mr Kounoupias.

Raiding markets and car boot sales is one of the most effective methods of the anti-piracy unit.

But Mr Kounoupias said educating young people about copyright theft was as crucial.

"Young people have to learn that copying a CD is as bad as stealing from a shop - education is crucial."

'Lose out'

He added: "The effects of counterfeiting run deep. The only people who benefit from it are the criminals themselves who often use the money they make to finance their other illegal activities - from drugs to pornography.

"The rest of us ultimately lose out in some way."

Industry bodies such as the British Phonographic Industry, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the Performing Right Society, among others have begun to work more closely to co-ordinate efforts to counter piracy.

Last week they signed a joint memorandum with the police and HM Customs on future operations.

A joint hotline has also been established so that consumers can query any potential copyright breaches, whether on CDs, DVDs, videos and computer games.

  • The Copyright Advice and Anti-Piracy Hotline is on 0845 6034567.

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    See also:

    12 Jun 01 | New Media
    Sharp rise in music piracy
    12 Jun 01 | Business
    EU opens online music probe
    10 May 01 | New Media
    Rise in seized pirate CDs
    07 Jun 01 | Business
    Rival knocks Napster deal
    07 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
    Legal challenge to US piracy law
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