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Call for market fines to punish music pirates.

British record companies are calling for more robust action to be taken against CD piracy amid warnings that it is costing the industry tens of millions of pounds in lost revenue. A survey estimating for the first time the projected losses caused by pirated CDs shows the industry lost pounds 165m in revenue last year - accounting for 10% of total sales. It found that 37m pirated CDs were sold in the UK last year, and that the value of them topped the combined legal sales of the leading 13 albums in the UK.

The report, based on findings from research company Ipsos, has prompted the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) to call for intellectual property crime to face tougher police action.

BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said police and trading standards officers did a 'superb' job in difficult and dangerous circumstances. But he called for them to be given wider powers to tackle the problem head on, saying piracy has increased because enforcement has been 'piecemeal'.

The anti-piracy efforts come as evidence grows that legal online downloading is finally becoming a mainstream method of buying music. Screen Digest concludes the total European market for online music will have more than doubled from 121m euros in 2005 to a forecast 280m euros by the end of this year. By 2010 consumer spending on online music in Europe will be more than 1.1bn euros.

This is considered sufficient to halt the decline in overall sales of recorded music.

A spokeswoman said, 'This explosive growth is being driven by rapidly growing broadband penetration and the massive increase in portable music player usage - over 7% of Europeans now use one, up from 2% in 2004 ). By the end of 2005 there were 29m portable music players in Europe and this figure will rise to more than 80m by 2010.'

Online piracy is declining - the number of tracks available on illegal file sharing networks declined from 1.1bn in 2003 to 885m in 2005.

The BPI has also demanded the prosecution of owners of markets where counterfeit goods are sold, to send a stern warning that piracy will not be tolerated. And it wants to see higher financial penalties.

Meanwhile, as the car boot sale season reached its peak yesterday, there was a warning that they are becoming a 'breeding ground' for organised criminal gangs. It has been estimated that up to a quarter of all fake DVD and CDs are sold at car boot sales.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils needed more powers to hold organisers liable for illegal activities at their events. Hazel Harding, the LGA's spokesman on crime, said, 'Car boot sales have become a fixture of the British summer. 'As well as being a good place to pick up a bargain, they're becoming a breeding ground for criminal gangs that sell dodgy and, at times, dangerous goods. Councils need more powers to stop what is becoming a deeply worrying problem. Not only does the trade in fake goods cost the country billions of pounds every year, it also fuels a vast international industry run by highly organised criminal outfits and leaves millions of people short-changed.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 29, 2006
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