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Muscles in Mexico

MPAA takes piracy fight south of the border

MEXICO CITY — MPAA topper Dan Glickman on Wednesday declared Mexico a critical battlefield in the war on piracy.

The MPAA estimates rampant bootlegging in the country cost the film industry $140 million last year.

The whirlwind visit — Glickman arrived on Tuesday and returned to the States on Wednesday evening — was punctuated by a meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox to discuss piracy. It was the MPAA topper’s first meeting with a foreign leader.

“Mexico is an extremely important market for us,” Glickman said in a press conference at the U.S. Embassy here. “This is a long-term issue, but we are very happy with what Mexico is doing so far.”

The meeting, also attended by Mexican deputy attorney general Alejandro Ramos Flores, dealt mainly with law enforcement, Glickman said. In addition, a special envoy within the Fox administration was designated as a direct liaison to the MPAA and its members.

According to official statistics, Mexican authorities seize around 150,000 pirated DVDs and CDs per week, and the numbers are climbing sharply. Calculated losses to the industry here soared 70% last year from 2003’s total of roughly $80 million.

While Glickman acknowledged that several countries in Asia have larger piracy issues, he says he identified two phenomena unique to Mexico: the widespread sale of illegally imported DVDs meant only for sale in the U.S.; and Mexico’s enormous street markets, representing tens of thousands of illegal points of sale nationwide.

After his meeting with Fox, Glickman visited Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood, a veritable pirate’s playground swimming with bootleg DVDs, videocassettes and music. “I’ve been to pirate markets all over the world,” Glickman said. “This is the largest I’ve ever seen.”

Among the pirate pics Glickman found in Tepito was “The Pacifier,” which was released theatrically in the U.S. just last Friday and was produced by his son, Jonathan Glickman.

The MPAA delegation, which also included Steve Solot, head of Latin American operations, and Francisco Guerra, director of its antipiracy program, also emphasized the little-discussed effect piracy has on international production, suggesting that with unrestrained bootlegging, producers are less likely to invest in Mexican film.

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