IFPI maps out strategy on opening day.

Court proceedings against illegal music downloaders and P2P file swappers will continue despite some improvements in global music piracy, said John Kennedy, president of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), today (June 7) at the opening of a three-day IFPI Worldwide Anti-Piracy Enforcement Conference in Madrid.

“IFPI’s carrot-and-stick policy must continue,” said Kennedy. “The carrot is our public awareness campaigns, but human nature tells us that awareness is not enough. The stick is bringing legal cases against piracy offenders in a way that you feel it could be you next.”

Part of the IFPI's "stick" strategy includes applying pressure on governments and organizations. “We are lobbying the US government not to close its World Trade Organization agreement with Russia until Russia cleans up its act on intellectual property recognition,” said Kennedy. “We are also telling the European Union authorities in Brussels and Strasbourg that they are mistaken in allowing [piracy blackspots] Bulgaria and Romania in as new EU members in 2007.”

The biennial IFPI conference which ends on Friday (June 9) is attended by 130 IFPI representatives from 48 countries. Delegates behind closed doors will reveal anti-piracy advances in their own countries and try to seek alternative strategies towards a global solution.

Joining Kennedy at the inaugural top table were Antonio Guisasola, president of Spain’s IFPI affiliate Promusicae; Mariano Pérez, president of Warner Music Spain; and Spanish author-artist Carmen Paris. A culture ministry official read out a statement by minister Carmen Calvo, who is recovering from an operation and could not attend.

Global piracy is still a “frightening” threat to the international music industry, Kennedy said, despite some improvements in the past year in blackspots such as Spain. “As recently as 1999, [physical] CD piracy in Spain was just 4%, and we look back on that fondly. It rose to 25%, but thanks to a Spanish government anti-piracy campaign that started last November, the figure has fallen to 22%.”

A special campaign focused on Madrid, which IFPI says accounts for 62% of Spain’s CD piracy, saw first-half retail sales climb at several big stores – by 20% at music retailer FNAC, 16% at department store El Corte Ingles, and 9% at hypermarket Carrefour.

But he warned that IFPI’s annual report on piracy, to be published late June, will show that Spain is still in the top ten of the world’s worst-affected countries. “The new problem in Spain is illegal downloading,” Kennedy said. He revealed that illegal downloads doubled in one year, 2004-2005, to 508 million downloads from 270 million in 2004.