A Greek criminal court this week handed down an eight-year prison sentence and a €15,000 ($18,000) fine to a man convicted of coordinating an illegal pirate CD network. The peddler is a repeate

A Greek criminal court this week handed down an eight-year prison sentence and a €15,000 ($18,000) fine to a man convicted of coordinating an illegal pirate CD network. The peddler is a repeated offender with a history of five arrests between 2003 and 2005.

Physical piracy has taken a toll on the Greek music market, the IFPI has repeatedly warned. According to figures released this week by the Greek IFPI affiliate, net music sales in Greece have declined to €49.5 million ($66 million) in 2005, down 6.25% year-on-year. The IFPI estimates the country's physical piracy level is more than 50% of the market.

For a 15th consecutive year, major label Minos-EMI holds the largest piece of the local market pie with 33.70%, according to IFPI statistics. Universal Music Greece comes in second with 20.82% and Sony BMG third at 16.77%.

In other news, organizers have announced the nominees for the fifth annual Arion Greek Music Awards, set to take place at the Athens Concert Hall in central Athens, on March 28. Sony Music artist Antonis Remos, Universal's Michalis Hadzigiannis, Minos-EMI artists Peggy Zina and Yiannis Ploutarchos are among the leading nominees for the awards, which will be hosted by Nikos Aliagas.

Traditional Greek music singer Domna Samiou will be the recipient of this year's lifetime achievement award.

The gala is organized by the local IFPI affiliate and commercial TV channel MEGA, which will televise the show live.

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