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Pirate fleet grows

Illegal music sales double in past 3 years

LONDON — Global sales of pirate CDs have more than doubled in the past three years and now generate an illegal international business of $4.6 billion, according to a report published Thursday by the recording industry.

Sales of pirate CDs are estimated to have risen by 14%, exceeding 1 billion units for the first time last year, meaning that one in three CDs sold worldwide is a fake. The value of the pirate music market, including cassettes, was $4.6 billion, up 7% on the previous year.

Cost drops

The ease and cheap costs of pirating onto recordable CDs has fueled the rise in pirated copies; anyone can now copy music onto CD-Rs with a computer and $65 CD burner.

The Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents 1,500 record companies in 70 countries, said raids had uncovered 800,000 illegal CDs in London, Vienna and Luxembourg alone.

China is the worst country for music piracy, with fake CDs accounting for more than 90% of all sales. Russia, Brazil and Mexico are also major offenders, with Spain the biggest European culprit.

‘Wake-up call’

“This report should be a wake-up call to governments on the massive damage that music piracy is causing to their economies, their cultures and their international reputations,” said Tim Bowen, chairman of record company BMG U.K. and Ireland.

IFPI chairman and CEO Jay Berman added, “Our industry invests substantial resources in fighting piracy, but our self-help strategies critically depend on help from governments. First, we need modern copyright laws and proper enforcement; second, the huge over-capacity of CD plants needs to be reined in by Optical Disc plant regulations; and third, we need deterrence — music piracy is a serious organized crime that can only be tackled when courts deliver serious deterrent penalties.”

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