Lax laws let CD piracy thrive

Seizures of pirate compact discs dropped last year, police said yesterday, but this is partly due to a growing trend in music being downloaded from the Internet, according to industry experts who charged that penalties for violators of intellectual property laws are too lax. Police confiscated 762,365 pirate CDs in 1,418 seizures last year – a 21.65 percent reduction from 973,073 CDs confiscated in 1,248 seizures in 2004. However some experts believe that this drop may be linked to a growing trend in music being downloaded over the Internet. «This is worse (than CD piracy) because it cannot be monitored,» the director of Greece’s Association of Record Producers, Panos Theofanelis, told Kathimerini. «The rate at which music is being purchased over the Internet is increasing all the time and this is all leading toward a homogenization of music,» he said. As for CD piracy, many believe that the main problem is a lack of harsh penalties for offenders – financial penalties are virtually negligible and punishments for misdemeanors have been reduced. Of the penalties imposed last year, 37.5 percent were jail sentences with three-year suspensions, according to the state Intellectual Property Agency director, Constantinos Polyzogopoulos. «This is happening because there are delays in updating criminal records and the strictest provisions of legislation designed to protect intellectual property rights are not effective,» he said. Polyzogopoulos also blamed a lack of insight into the piracy problem at many state institutions, noting that the National Statistics Service «did not understand what we wanted» when it was approached for figures on CD piracy in Greece. «And this is despite the fact that the state loses around 150 million euros in taxes every year,» Polyzogopoulos said. According to police, who made 110 arrests following pirate CD seizures last year, it is African nationals who are now in control of the production and distribution of pirate CDs in Greece.

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