Music piracy – an international problem   |  

We are living in a modern technological world where globalization is the norm, and all creative activities lead to increase in multi-media literary artistic works. The development of new ways for promoting this artwork to the public has lead to works that can be used universally. As a result piracy rates have also risen. The challenge of the battle opposing copyright piracy in general and music piracy in particular falls on the copyright owners’ and authorities’ shoulders of each country. This essay gives an overview of music piracy, identifies methods of piracy, explains reasons for piracy and proposes solutions in order to restore order.

Music piracy

We can identify acts of music piracy as unauthorized reproductions of original recordings without permission of the owners including decorating artwork, labels and trademarks, or designing copies of originals in order to deceive consumers for a profit. In addition, the acts of fixation, copying and circulating and broadcasting programs without the permission of the performers, are also acts of music piracy.

The current situation of music piracy is not only limited in national borders but has become an international problem. Given the spread of piracy, the whole world must make many efforts in the battle against music and film piracy. There are over 1 billion pirated music albums sold worldwide. 37% of all music albums published are pirated, with 4.5 billion US dollars of damage done to the legitimate producers. In the year 2005, the rate of music piracy was 37% of the piracy market, worth 4.6 billion US dollars. Also in 2005, worldwide total of pirated discs seized was 82.1 million, including 7.5 million CDs, 4.4 million DVDs, 65.5 million recorded CD-Rs, and 4.7 million recorded DVD-Rs. Besides that, 78 optical disc replication lines, 48.7 million blank CD-Rs, 13.65 million blank DVD-Rs, 40,02 CD-R burners, and 10,905 DVD-R burners were seized. Of the total number of seized pirated CDs 80% were from Asia.

The experiences of many nations indicates that the production of pirated products can be carried out anywhere at any time in factories, offices, business places, or private houses. Pirated products can be smuggled by all transport means, including on public transport systems such as a bus. For example, criminals have designed specialized ships with containers that can be cut off, dropping pirated goods into the sea and destroying the evidence when the piracy ring is discovered by authorities.

According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), music piracy has a close relationship with organized crime. Income from music piracy funds other criminal activities such as violence and intimidation, tax evasion, and corruption and money laundering. There was also a case in which CD packaging was used to conceal the trafficking of heroin.

Identifying pirated music

In order to distinguish pirated music it is necessary to check the information about name of the producer or songwriter, the name of the performing artists and titles, the list of tracks, the reproduction license granted by a collective management organization, the trade mark, the catalogue number and management information, and the copyright warning. Buyers can not only suspect but also can affirm that a disc is a pirated copy if it has no label, was purchased at a low price, is of poor quality, has spelling mistakes on the label and no SID code printed on the disc, or is missing the registration code of the music producer with the LBR symbol.

Reasons for music piracy

Reasons for music piracy include a lack of awareness, lack of political will, insufficiency of legislation, no deterrent penalties, and low priority for IPR crime prevention. The most important thing that should be fully recognized in order to prevent piracy is that organizations, individuals, and especially organized crime syndicates are strongly attracted by the profits to be made from piracy. IFPPI is especially interested in the activities of production, trade, and the import and export of music. Discs can be used for many purposes, among them is storing individual information and official records. According to IFPI, the total disc capacity worldwide is 60 billion units, while the total legitimate demand is 20 billion units.

Solutions for preventing music piracy

There is no easy solution for dealing with music piracy, but it is necessary to apply many different solutions. This text only mentions one solution, which had been applied in many countries and recommended for Vietnam. Year after year, workshops on this matter have been organized or co-organized by IFPI, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the participation of representatives from Vietnam’s management and enforcement agencies. There are now nine nations and territories in Asia that have legal documents regulating the management of compact discs used for data storage. Depending on it’s economic, cultural, and social circumstances and legislative tradition, each nation and territories such as China, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia also have legal texts regulating this matter.

In Vietnam, realizing the importance of promoting effective enforcement of copyright and related rights, gaining experiences from other nations and heading IFPI’s advice, enacting legal documents to adjust manufacturing practices, regulating exports and imports, business, and managing copyrights for performances, phonograms, and broadcasts is very necessary. Therefore, a Working Group established by the Ministry of Culture and Information formerly, and the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism presently is responsible to draft a Decree regulating the above-mentioned activities. In Dalat, from 10th to 11th August 2007 the Copyright Office of Vietnam, in cooperation with the IFPI and the Support for Trade Acceleration Project, USAID, and Funded Project (STAR-VIETNAM), organized a workshop on “Effective regulation and enforcement against optical disc piracy.” Attending the workshop were representatives of central authorities and management and enforcement agencies. At the workshop were representative of the Working Group introduced the main contents of the first draft of the Decree for consulting. This important work of drafting the document is continuing to be carried out and is hoped to receive positive support from the involved organizations and individuals.