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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Greek holiday warning on fake CDs
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Lebanese vendor sells pirated CDs in Beirut
CD piracy is a problem in several countries
Millions of holidaymakers going to Greece this summer have been warned they could be jailed for buying pirated CDs after a buyer was imprisoned.

A man was jailed for three months by an Athens court for buying illegal CDs in the country's first case of its kind.

He had been arrested as he bought two CDs from a vendor in Athens last week, said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI).

The group gave a clear warning it would target buyers of counterfeit CDs.

IFPI spokesman Ion Stamboulis said: "This is not a symbolic measure. We are determined to prosecute the buyers and we have the support of the authorities."

Greece has the worst piracy rate in western Europe.

Photo of blank CD and laptop
CD piracy costs the Greek economy dearly
About 10 million pirated CDs are sold in Greece each year - the same number of sales as those of genuine CDs - at an average cost of six euros (4) each.

Travellers from the UK are among the customers for counterfeit CDs sold openly on the streets, outside cafes or on beaches.

The Greek authorities appear to be acting to stave off the threat of an increase in piracy anticipated during this summer's Olympics in Athens.

About 1,000 vendors have been prosecuted during the past few years, but this is the first time a buyer has been jailed.

"Until now, we were focusing on the sellers, but Greek courts generally hand them light suspended sentences and they resume their trade as soon as they are released," said Mr Stamboulis.

He said production and distribution were virtually controlled by what he called a "Nigerian mafia".

He said he expected a big surge in pirated CD trafficking during the Olympics from 13 - 29 August.

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