CD pirate treasure

Illegal sales outpace legal in 31 countries

LONDON — Piracy accounted for some 1.2 billion music CDs — one of every three sold in the world last year — with sales totaling $4.6 billion, the Intl. Federation of Phonographic Industries said Thursday.

In a record 31 countries, fake recordings now outsell legal ones, the org said in its annual report.

The bootleg industry is growing in Latin America, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, although some countries are cracking down on copyright theft by shutting down illegal recording facilities. A record number — with an annual capacity for 380 million discs — were knocked out of action last year, according to the study.

The London-based federation released the report in Madrid because Spain is Europe’s worst culprit when it comes to pirating music.

The federation also named Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia and the Ukraine as priorities.

“The music industry fights piracy because if it did not, the music industry would quite simply not exist,” IFPI chairman John Kennedy wrote in the report.

Report called intellectual property “a jewel worth protecting,” with copyright industries accounting for 5% of GDP of the U.S. and European economies.

The value of the global pirate market for music is equal to the legitimate markets of the U.K., the Netherlands and Spain combined, according to the report.

Musical piracy grew 2% in 2004, the smallest increase in five years. But the number of pirated discs is still double that sold in 2000.

China is by far the world’s largest pirate market, with an 85% bootleg rate, the IFPI added.

Meanwhile, a steep rise in the number of fake CDs and growing illegal downloading of music accounted for a 31% increase in piracy in the U.K. last year, according to record company trade org the British Phonographic Industry.

The value in sales lost was £76.9 million ($140 million), up 37% from the year before.

Trade org says the rate of growth is 10 times greater than that of the legitimate market and 15 times greater than the growth in piracy internationally.

“While Internet piracy may have stolen the headlines, commercial piracy is rising at an alarming rate,” BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said. “Every day of the week in pubs, car (trunk)sales and markets around the country, pirates are stealing the livelihoods of performers, songwriters and the companies who invest in them.”

Although the U.K. has one of the lowest rates of music piracy in the world — at 3.9% of legitimate business — the BPI figures reveal a worrying trend, with the value of the commercial piracy market almost quadrupling since 2000.

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