MCA teams with WCO in global piracy fight

PARIS — The Motion Picture Assn. has inked a new agreement with the World Customs Organization aimed at further combating international piracy.

The agreement, signed by MPA president William Baker and the WCO’s Leonid Lozbenko, aims to step up cooperation between the MPA and the WCO, which reps customs services in 144 countries.

Despite the strenuous efforts of the MPA, piracy remains a massive problem, costing MPA members an estimated $2.5 billion in lost revenues each year. MPA figures show the association participated in more than 40,000 piracy investigations in 1996 alone, resulting in the seizure of 5 million illegal videocassettes.

A joint statement from the MPA and WCO said the duo would be paying particular attention to digital formats, such as CDs, as they involve specialized production methods. “We anticipate a few major CD pirate producers and we intend to target these producers,” an MPA spokesman said.

While Lozbenko noted that customs services already play a role in detecting pirated and counterfeit audiovisual works, increased cooperation between the MPA and customs would help in the ongoing piracy fight.

“We’re looking to boost the interception of pirated product as it crosses frontiers,” the MPA spokesman noted. “The WCO agreement is the latest step in out efforts to increase investigative programs and foster effective criminal prosecutions.”

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