For the second year running, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has singled out 10 countries as being the world's worst music-piracy offenders.

LONDON -- For the second year running, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has singled out 10 countries as being the world's worst music-piracy offenders.

This year's list consists of Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, Brazil, China, Mexico, Paraguay and Pakistan.

"These are the countries that failed to live up to their responsibility," says IFPI chairman/CEO Jay Berman, who calls upon the governments of the countries "to take firm action against commercial music piracy."

Poland is the only country to have been removed from the list since last year. (It was replaced by Pakistan.)

Following is a brief overview of the list:

BRAZIL

The legitimate music market in Brazil fell by 17% in value and 25% in units in 2003, and the IFPI attributes this mostly to piracy. The country has remained on the list because of "the inefficiency (or non-existence) of coordinated police efforts at a national level." Says Berman, "Simply put, nothing is done in Brazil."

However, the IFPI is putting some faith in the impact of a report published in June by the country's Congressional Anti-Piracy Commission. The Commission, set up to investigate piracy and the counterfeit trade, exposed a ring of corruption involving politicians, judges, civil servants and others. The report makes strong recommendations to the government in tackling piracy.

CHINA

Although China has a huge potential as a legitimate market, it still has the highest piracy level in the world -- 90% of the music sold there is pirated. The IFPI says it has seen no major improvement in China, despite the fact that the country has joined the World Trade Organization.

"We have made more seizures in China than in any other place in the world," says Berman. "But the manufacturing and selling of pirate products is not a criminal offense in China."

China is believed to be a major exporter of pirated goods. The IFPI calls for a radical overhaul of China's intellectual-property laws and a clear commitment from the government to address the issue.

MEXICO

Berman describes the situation in Mexico as similar to that of China, with endemic piracy and vast amount of product seized last year but little or no government action. Once the eighth-biggest music market in the world, Mexico saw legitimate sales fall nearly 50% in 2003.

The IFPI has launched the Street Vendors' Conversion Program, a pilot plan aimed at turning pirate stands into distribution points for legitimate products.

PARAGUAY

Despite being a small country, Berman says Paraguay is "strategically located" in South America and serves as the main point of entry of blank CD-Rs into the region, especially to Brazil.

The IFPI recognizes that the local government has taken steps to tackle piracy. However, the problem is compounded by weak criminal penalties against pirates.

PAKISTAN

A new entry to the top-10 list, Pakistan has become a major manufacturer and exporter of pirated CDs in Asia. The country has an annual manufacturing capacity of 180 million optical discs, while local demand is estimated at 20 million. CDs manufactured in Pakistan have been found in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the United States.

The IFPI says the government of Pakistan has acknowledged the problem, but concrete action is needed.

RUSSIA

Along with China, Russia is "one of the world's largest producers and exporters of pirate CDs," according to Berman. Despite many raids and seizures, few cases are brought to court, and penalties are very low.

The IFPI asks the Russian government to plan "continuous plant inspections and (to) shut down plants producing pirate product," as well as to introduce "a comprehensive optical-media regulatory and enforcement scheme."

SPAIN

The only Western European country in the top 10, Spain is affected by massive CD-R piracy. Despite what the IFPI describes as "notable improvements in enforcement," thousands of illegal pirate businesses are flourishing.

The IFPI recommends that the government apply a "zero-tolerance approach" to illegal street vendors.

TAIWAN

CR-R piracy is endemic in Taiwan, and the country is one of the main exporters of pressed CDs in the region.

The IFPI calls upon the government to "curb the damage that the combination of physical piracy and unauthorized Internet music distribution is inflicting on the local industry." This requires a change in copyright law and the implementation of an optical-disc law.

THAILAND

After some successes in 2002, piracy levels in Thailand started to rise again in 2003. More action from the government is expected.

UKRAINE

The IFPI regards the situation in Ukraine as very serious. Pirated products flow into the country from Russia, but the country also has substantial optical-disc production capacity. "The government answers have been totally inadequate," says Berman.

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