Sales from abroad helped the music industry recoup some of the revenue that was lost in 2009 to piracy and to the growing obsolescence of CDs, making for stronger sales – and smaller losses – than predicted. But piracy remains the thorn in the industry’s side, cost at least $12.5 billion a year. While this is a tremendous concern to US companies (as we can see from the ongoing legal battles of Jammie Thomas Rasset), it is attacking other countries with equal or greater ferocity. How is the global war on music piracy going?
Copyright protection societies and courts all over the world are cracking down on piracy. The Copyright Society of Nigeria, for instance, has launched a wide-scale anti-piracy campaign to curb illegal downloads and purchases. Some of Nigeria’s biggest artists have joined the effort, writing songs against piracy that will be appearing on TV screens all over the country. The Copyright Society’s Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji says:
“For too long Nigerian artists have run from pirates and some were indeed cowed into paying pirates “protection” money so that their works would not be pirated. From now on, pirates must run from Nigerian artistes and the pirates will find no place to hide.”
These words sound like a rally cry to wage war on terrorists, and in essence, this is what Nigeria is doing against a huge drain on their music industry and economy. Another African nation, Rwanda, is also taking piracy on. There, police have arrested seven people who are accused of illegally copying CDs and cassettes and selling them. They claim not to have known what they were doing was illegal, though in Rwanda, music piracy is considered organized crime. The pirates face a prison sentence of between five and ten years and a fine from Rwf 5m to Rwf 10m (US$9000 to 18,000).
Meanwhile, the US is seeking cooperation from Brazil in cracking down on music piracy; According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Brazil is one of 33 countries that are on an international pirate watch list. The South American country is a hotbed of piracy with a thriving black market. Other countries on the watch list include Russia, Canada, China, Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Thailand.
Besides legal action, two major Australian ISPs are arguing that better access to movies and music online will do much to relieve the problem of piracy. The ISPs have been targeted by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), who sought damages (and failed) against the ISPs and who are filing an appeal. Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer or iiNet, says:
“Their problem lies in the fact that the movie industry has invested hundreds of millions in creating demand for their catalogue of product by promoting and advertising their movies, and then allowed a black market to flourish by not satisfying the demand [they created] with legally available content. If they invested the wasted millions this court case had cost into an online distribution platform, we would be two years closer to satisfying consumer demand for their product. This case…will not stop or slow piracy. Consumers want the movies, if they are not available legally, they’ll continue to look for other options. The ball is in their court.”
The war rages on.
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