A CD replicating plant described as the biggest in Baltic States has been found guilty of music piracy and ordered to pay €500,000 ($679,000) in compensation to a coalition of 13 record companies, the IFPI said today.

The civil action against Baltic Optical Disc in Vilnius, Lithuania was brought jointly by the public prosecutor and 13 members of the IFPI, including UMG Recordings, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (UK), WEA International, EMI Records, Virgin Records America and Mute Records.

The Vilnius District Court found the company guilty of large-scale piracy and imposed the maximum compensation possible on the firm.

"This is a landmark victory that sets a precedent which should be a warning to the operators of replicating plants everywhere who produce copyright CDs without authorisation from the rights-owners," commented Jo Oliver, vice president, litigation and regulatory affairs at the IFPI.

"The judgment sends a strong message across the region that copyright law will be enforced wherever it is abused," Oliver adds. "At a time when nearly one in three CDs sold worldwide is a fake, the industry welcomes the damages awarded by the court. It has never been more important to crack down on these activities that hurt all those who invest in the creative process."

More than 210,000 pirate CDs were seized in 2001 in Vilnius and the Czech-Polish border and later traced to the plant. The illicit discs were a mixture of international and Polish acts.