With international pirates becoming increasingly sophisticated, law enforcement agencies, governments and intellectual-property rights owners must step up their efforts and their cooperation to succes

LONDON -- With international pirates becoming increasingly sophisticated, law enforcement agencies, governments and intellectual-property rights owners must step up their efforts and their cooperation to successfully combat the global piracy problem.

This was the message from the World Anti-Piracy Enforcement Conference, held June 29-July 1 in Dublin.

Organized by the IFPI and hosted by Irish recording-industry association IRMA, the seminar drew more than 150 law-enforcement officers, anti-piracy investigators, record-company executives and others in the IP community.

Citing a statistic that two out of every five physical recordings is an illegal copy, Iain Grant, head of the IFPI's enforcement department, tells ELW, "The music industry is under severe attack."

The IFPI estimates the value of the pirate music market in 2003 at $4.6 billion.

"Pirates have become more global and growing in sophistication," says Grant. "But we too are getting more sophisticated in our efforts to crack down on piracy. We're getting more seizures, more cases (to court). But we need more from governments, more from law enforcement."

In his opening remarks at the conference, Sony Music International president Rick Dobbis called for sustained lobbying of governments that fail to enforce IP rights. He also highlighted the need for strong cooperation with allied industries.

The conference featured guest speakers John Newton, crime intelligence officer from Interpol, and Maciej Lubik, World Customs Organisation regional intelligence liaison officer for Central and Eastern Europe.

Keynote speakers included Pat Brehony, detective superintendent of the Irish police service's National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Army General Anatoly S. Koulikov, deputy chairman of the law enforcement committee of Russia's State Dumas. (Russia, one of IFPI's priority countries, has Europe's highest domestic piracy level.)

There were also representatives from sister organizations such as the Motion Picture Assn. of America, and members of the computer software and videogame industries.

"We all have a stronger sense that we need to work together to enforce the protection of intellectual-property rights," says Grant. "There are more synergies between organizations, companies, governments and enforcement agencies."

He adds, "If we are looking now at where we were five years ago, one thing that has been pivotal has been the recognition by governments and law-enforcement agencies that organized crime is at the back of music piracy."

To back this claim, IFPI presented during the seminar a report on recent cases that show the extent of organized crime in piracy.

Among the examples were:

1) the arrest of 21 people in Italy allegedly running a major piracy network that involved the importation of blank CD-Rs from Southeast Asia

2) the discovery of a clandestine plant in Russia capable of producing 18 million DVDs a year

3) a trail of corruption over the illicit importation of more than 1 million blank discs in Paraguay that led to the resignation of the Minister of the Interior and heads of police and customs

and 4) the dismantling in the Philippines of a major CD-R piracy ring based in nine separate locations that was estimated to be supplying more than 50% of the pirated music in Manila.

The IFPI -- through its central office in London, regional offices and national affiliates -- has a global anti-piracy team of more than 200 investigators and analysts. Most are former law-enforcement personnel.

Grant says the IFPI's forensic scheme put in place several years ago is now a key tool in identifying the manufacturing source of pirate CDs and factories. Together with law enforcement and customs, the industry aids in the seizure of about 50 million discs annually.

"We've clearly seen the benefits of our forensic program," says Grant.

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