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Viv U topper launches int’l antipiracy effort

Fourtou leads push against counterfeiting

NEW YORK — Vivendi Universal topper Jean-Rene Fourtou turned up in Gotham on Wednesday for the U.S. launch of an international antipiracy and counterfeiting coalition, which drew a diverse corporate crowd repping everything from music and movies to Kate Spade handbags and Gillette razors.

Coalition, dubbed the Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (Bascap), is an arm of the Intl. Chamber of Commerce, which Fourtou chairs. Aim of the group, which first met in Paris on Nov. 26, is to present a united front in raising worldwide awareness about the evils of piracy and counterfeiting, as well as to urge countries to enforce the relevant laws.

“Piracy is the cancer of business,” Fourtou said at the meeting, held at the offices of Universal Music, a division of Vivendi. “It’s a disease which is very contagious and goes everywhere.”

Fourtou noted that no rep of the Motion Picture Assn. of America was in attendance, suggesting that some associations get protective of their turf. He said everyone must have “humility” and take his seat at the table, adding that he’s sometimes been surprised that the movie biz doesn’t reach out more to the music industry on the topic of piracy.

“The objective is to speak with one voice. When we come just for music or toys or luxury goods, we lack strength,” Fourtou said.

MPAA said it is supporting Bascap but that a scheduling conflict prevented MPAA chair Dan Glickman from attending. The association’s international arm, the Motion Picture Assn., took part in the Paris meeting of Bascap.

Hollywood studios and record companies were nevertheless well represented at Wednesday’s session, including NBC Universal, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., EMI Music, Sony BMG Music, Warner Music Group and Universal Music. News Corp. and Time Warner proper also sent reps.

Reps of companies in other industries attended, including software congloms such as Microsoft, luxury goods makers such as Chaneland Kate Spade, publishing houses, pharmaceutical companies, toy companies and computer makers.

At a closed-door session, NBC U offered to help create public service messages upping awareness about piracy.

Fourtou said Bascap would meet in February in Paris to create a global executive committee and potentially talk about funding. “At this stage, we need more companies and leaders to join us,” Fourtou said.

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