Reforms pave way for IP support.

The IFPI and its film and software trade counterparts have welcomed the Pakistan government's renewed efforts to contain its severe copyright piracy levels.

The London-based labels trade body, together with the Motion Picture Assn., and Business Software Alliance, today (May 20) responded to a series of administrative reforms and enforcement efforts initiated in recent weeks by the Pakistan government.

At the heart of its stance on copyright theft is a new body -- the Pakistan Intellectual Property Rights Organization -- which has been created to oversee copyright, trademark and patent protection issues.

And in a move to reinforce its position, the Federal Investigation Agency recently closed down six illegal optical disc plants around Karachi, the business capital of Pakistan. Authorities arrested nine people and confiscated more than 400,000 illicit soundcarriers and master discs.

"Pakistan is showing that it takes seriously the need to address its severe levels of copyright piracy," said a joint-statement issued by trade bodies.

In recent years, Pakistan has evolved into one of the world's biggest players in the international commercial piracy market, according to the IPFI.

"Pakistan has become one of the largest manufacturers of pirate discs in the world - producing over 230 million discs in 2004, of which the vast majority was exported to at least 46 countries worldwide," says IFPI regional co-ordinator Willem van Adrichem.

Reflecting the industry's concern on the country's optical disc output, the U.S. Trade Representatives office last year placed Pakistan's Special 301 status on the "Priority Watch List."