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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 18:45 GMT
Music piracy in UK soars
CDs lining the shelves in a music shop
The future of legal CDs, like these, are being undermined by pirates
The circulation of pirated music in the UK has risen by more than 36% according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

The music industry watchdog said figures from 2001 showed a massive rise in the number of fake and pirated CDs seized in the UK.

The figures are based on the number of seizures in the UK in 2001, and represent 27m worth of music.

The BPI is fighting back by making copyright infringements a crime that can result in a 10-year jail sentence, according to the BPI's head of anti-piracy David Martin.

"We have lobbied the government with a group called the Alliance Against Counterfeiting And Piracy," he said. "There is now a private member's bill which makes copyright infringement an arrestable offence."
We're going to have to fight back and use technology to save the industry

David Martin, BPI head of anti-piracy

More power is being given to police, customs and trading standards officials to take people to court.

He said the problem with piracy is twofold, with organised crime copying CDs while people with home computers are also using CD copiers to make copies to sell.

Most computers sold now in major computer stores feature CD burners to allow people to save files onto CD Roms. Their use for personal work is, of course, entirely legal.

"On every street in Britain someone is making CDs. And they're not just copying them for their friends," said Mr Martin. "They are selling them at work, in the pub and at car boot sales.

"You look in any market and there are people selling fake CDs there."

But the pirated material is only the tip of the iceberg because it does not include digital piracy, a massive problem for the music industry.

BPI spokesman Matt Phillips said digital downloads were making a huge dent in album sales all over the world.
A CD in a computer
Most computers sold in the UK now have a CD burner

"One of the biggest records in the US last year was the Linkin Park album. Now, you'd normally expect a big album in the US to sell 10 million. This sold four million.

"And we believe that it was downloaded from one site - just one - eight million times."

He said the copying and selling of CDs was becoming a major cash generator for organised crime, especially in Eastern Europe.

Industrial copying

"It is an easy way to make a lot of money for these illegal groups, Mr Phillips said.

"If they are caught smuggling CDs, the penalties are not as harsh as they would be for smuggling heroin or guns."

He also said the lax copyright laws in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet countries made it hard to crack down on pirates there.

The BPI is working with a global body, the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, to tighten up copyright laws in other parts of the world.

Mr Martin said they were also trying to crack down on commercial CD plants in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, who often copy CDs on an industrial scale without paying royalties to artist and publishers.

"These people are starting to use more and more technology to copy the CDs, and we're going to have to fight back and use technology to save the industry."

Mr Martin added it was vital to help smaller record stores, who are finding their businesses undermined.

"They are finding it really difficult," he said. "They have overheads and staff to pay, and they can't compete with the guys who are selling the CDs for three quid off a blanket in a market."

See also:

22 Nov 02 | Technology
04 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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27 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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