Disk artists’ help sought: Disk artists are called upon to join the war against piracy with funds for IFPI campaigns

Cannes, 26th January 1982

WEA International prexy Nesuhi Ertegun, as expected, called here today (Tues.) for financial contributions from recording artists to aid the worldwide anti-piracy campaigns of the International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers.

“One section of our industry has been unfortunately absent from this (anti-piracy) campaign – and that is the recording artist,” Ertegun told the audience at the well-attended IFPI seminar. Noting that he was referring to “superstars” in the class with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and Herbert von Karajan, Ertegun stated: “Those people have more to lose than anybody else” from the widespread piracy of recording in many areas of the world. Although “we cannot win this fight without the artist,” he added the IFPI’s pleas for artist contributions have thus far been ignored.

The only recording artist to show up at the seminar – several had been expected – was French performer Sylvie Vartan, who voiced her agreement with IFPI’s position but did not announce that she was contributing to its cause. John Morton, prez of the International Federation of Musicians, said his org. was behind the IFPI’s anti-piracy efforts and was considering establishment of an anti-piracy fund. He noted, however, that all areas of the industry – as well as musicians – must unite in order to solve this problem.

Another panelist, Jean-Loup Tournier, director general of SACEM, the French performing rights org. also underlined the need for all industry sectors, including publishers and artists, to help fight piracy. But he questioned whether there isn’t a limit to what can be accomplished through legislation. Education of young people about the criminal nature of record piracy and counterfeiting, he suggested, might be equally important in the long run. In addition, he pointed out, counterfeiting and piracy are only two aspects of a much bigger problem: the complete lack of copyright protection in many countries and the low level of protection in others, such as Canada.

Upgraded penalties

Other panelists noted that new laws in several countries have recently established or upgraded penalties for record piracy. In Italy for example, the penalty for both illegal duplication of copyrighted product and the retailing or wholesaling such product has jumped from a fine of $US600, to a prison term of from six months to three years and fines ranging from $US400-$5,000. Since this law went into effect last July, said Guido Rignano, prexy of Dischi Ricordi, 500 of 1,500 police raids on pirates have resulted in convictions, as well as the seizure of pirate equipment and 600,000 pirated cassettes valued at $US1,800,000. As piracy is suppressed, however, counterfeiting has increased, rising to 25% of the illegitimate market, from 10%.

New laws against piracy were passed recently in Korea and Egypt, it was noted. But whether or not these markets will be able to realize their legitimate potential depends on how strictly the laws are enforced. This has been a particular problem, said Dr. David Attard, head of IFPI’s Middle East office, in Turkey and Greece. On the other hand, he sees a glimmer of hope in Kuwait, a pirate-dominated market in which the courts have begun to uphold IFPI’s position as a matter of preventing unfair competition – although the country still lacks a copyright protection law.

Asia: Hot spot

Biggest problem is still in South-east Asia, where piracy continues to be paramount in most countries. As the result of a four-year campaign spearheaded by IFPI, piracy in Hong Kong has been reduced to 5% of the market, from 95%, according to IFPI regional director James Woolsey. But 85% of the Singapore trade, he said, is still pirate – and that doesn’t include the estimated 100,000,000 pirate units being exported annually from Singapore, which represent a threat to every record market in the world.

Woolsey also said that Thailand has made progress in combating piracy. The percentage of pirated product out of all the records sold in Bangkok, he noted, has fallen from 80% of the Thai market outside the capital.

Growing problem

Another burgeoning problem around the world, said the panelists, is record rentals. Within the past year, said Warner – Pioneer managing director Tokygen Yamamoto, a thousand or more rental shops have sprung up across Japan, creating a “catastrophe” for the Japanese disk biz. The diskeries recently filed a lawsuit against the rentals outlets, which charge $US1 a day per unit, but the publicity given to their suit has only increased the rental business.

Noting the international scope of this threat, Yamamoto concluded that “unless we do something about this problem now, there will be no more Midems and we might as well get new jobs.”

Stig Anderson, head of Polar Music, expressed a similar viewpoint on record rentals. Although the anti-piracy prospects of his country, Sweden appear bright – the government is expected to raise the penalty from six months to two years imprisonment – he called record renting “a new form of piracy” which could harm the Swedish industry as much as the Japanese music business. He urged the attendees to ascertain the state of the law in their own countries with regard to record rentals and do something about it before it’s too late. Transcribed for ABBA World

Variety (New York) · Wednesday, 27 January 1982 (Pages 73 & 81) 

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