Film, music communities expand joint efforts.

The music and film industries in Latin America have teamed up in an unprecedented effort to jointly fight piracy.

In a move that underscores the shared woes of copyright infringement, the Latin American regional operations of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the IFPI Feb. 15 signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for expanding their joint anti-piracy and legislative efforts in the region.

Although the Latin offices of the MPA and the IFPI already work together via a global agreement signed by both associations in 2000, the MOU takes the collaboration a step further and specifies joint projects.

“Both regional offices decided we needed a document to really reflect what we were doing,” says Raul Vazquez, regional director of IFPI Latin America. “It’s a commitment to identify projects where we will work
together. It says that piracy goes beyond just the record industry, and that more than one industry is affected by this.”

On the legislative front, the two organizations are working on several ventures. These include the pursuit of ex officio powers to law enforcement in Mexico which would allow authorities to pursue pirates as a matter of public policy, without requiring a complaint by a victim.

In the past year, Mexican authorities have been particularly aggressive in their fight against piracy, and in 2005, they launched the Mexico Plus pilot program, which seeks to convert illegal street vendors into
legitimate music retailers. Other joint MPA/IFPI projects include encouraging the passage of bills to increase criminal penalties for piracy in Argentina and Colombia;
the ban of camcording in Mexican movie theaters; the reform of criminal statues for piracy in Chile; and the fighting of copyright reform in Venezuela that would strip rights from copyright producers.

Latin America has been plagued by piracy in the past few years, with every major market reporting piracy levels of over 50%, according to IFPI figures. Although the area is best known for its issues with physical piracy, the MPA and IFPI are also jointly tackling growing internet piracy, which includes illegal file sharing and websites as well as the sale and distribution of hard goods through online transactions.