Spain pioneers ‘legal’ piracy

Practice uses false licence codes

SAN SEBASTIAN — A new, national strain of piracy has emerged in Spain: “legal” piracy. The practice consists in editing and selling — usually undercutting legal product prices — DVD titles, without owning their rights, to big stores, using false licence codes.

Its existence was unveiled Saturday at San Sebastian during the presentation of AVEI (the Spanish Independent Video Association), a group of eight specialized Spanish DVD distributors.

“We’ve joined forces to defend our interests with the Spanish goverrnment,” AVEI prexy Antonio Huedo announced. “Especially regarding the upcoming Spanish Film Law, which overlooks the video market,” he added.

The founders of AVEI are Avalon Distribución, Crest Films, Motion Pictures, New Dreams Digital, Sherlock Films, Suevia Films, Vellavision and Versus Ent. They are in talks to bring in other indie companies.

AVEI’s launch underscores deepening problems troubles in Spain’s distribution sector, which sees how its main enemy, unauthorized P2P file-sharing systems such as eMule, is increasing spectacularly.

During 2006 Spain cold put in a fair claim to be Western Europe’s champion in P2P piracy, reaching 132 million downloads. Full-year 2007 downloads are estimated at 200 million. AVEI members claim that Spain has near 400,000 illegal webmasters.

According to AVEI sources, 750 videoclubs shuttered and 1,800 jobs were lost last year.

Rental, the sector’s most fragile bizz, lost 35% of turnover during the first six months of 2007.

The only relatively positive news for DVD distributors in Spain is a 2% increase of sell through, thanks to still strong sales of catalogue collections.

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