RIAA reports rise in pirate CD-R seizure

Number confiscated in 2000 rose by 79%

NEW YORK — The number of pirate CD-Rs seized in 2000 rose by 79% to nearly 1.7 million, according to year-end figures released Wednesday by the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

The music industry org also said 633 CD-R burners had been seized over the course of the year, with a manufacturing capacity of more than 9.5 million counterfeit discs annually that repped a potential loss of $150 million in revenues to the music biz.

But it wasn’t entirely clear to industry watchers whether the increase in seizures implied the industry org was winning the war against music piracy.

“It totally reminds me of the war on drugs,” said Lee Black, research director for entertainment research firm Webnoize. “Don’t think you’re going to stop it as long as there’s demand and money to be made.”

Still, the RIAA maintained that its efforts against piracy at the retail level, particularly in New York, were bearing fruit. The org pointed to its “Operation Clean Streets” effort, which bowed in April 2000 and has made more than 1,000 piracy arrests and confiscated 600,000 CD-Rs in eight months.

The year-end data also showed a four-fold increase, to more than 10,000, in the number of Web sites receiving warning notices from the RIAA for potential copyright violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

“These numbers speak well of the resources we have dedicated to the Internet,” said RIAA senior VP and director of anti-piracy Frank Creighton. “Unfortunately, they are also indicative of the many ways that people are misusing technology to pirate music.”

Webnoize’s Black said the RIAA’s liberal application of the DMCA likely will come under scrutiny in the coming months, as the relatively new and controversial law is put to the test in court.

“The RIAA is looking to position itself as the piracy czar for the industry,” he said. “But until (the DMCA) is tested, there is no real precedent in saying what’s against the law and what’s not.”