NBC Universal chairman and CEO Bob Wright has called on governments and businesses to join forces in a rigorous alliance to combat piracy and counterfeiting.

Wright appealed to broadband providers, Internet auction sites, financial intermediaries and shipping companies to act more promptly in staunching the flow of illegal downloads and trading on their watch. "Business leaders have to put it at the top of their agendas," he said. "The days of 'hear no evil, see no evil' must come to an end."

Wright said the issue had reached new heights that could not be ignored by businesses and policy makers. "The scale of the epidemic leaves no choice. Legitimate businesses have to step forward and declare that they will not profit on the back of IP theft. And if they don't step forward, governments need to adopt laws to require co-operation," he said.

Wright was among dozens of CEOs and ministers in Geneva for a major two-day meeting aimed at stamping out piracy and counterfeiting.

The meeting, titled the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, is co-hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Interpol.

Referring to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wright said that every dollar lost to piracy by Hollywood studies generated more than three dollars of damage to the wider economy. "The estimated $6 billion in piracy losses suffered by U.S. movie studios actually amounts to a $20 billion loss in overall economic output to the US economy," he told delegates.

Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said the global crime-fighting agency had set up a new database on international IP crime, which would make information provided by private companies available to law enforcement worldwide.