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VIDEO GAME EXECUTIVE URGES CONGRESS TO MAKE COMPUTER SOFTWARE PIRACY A FELONY

 VIDEO GAME EXECUTIVE URGES CONGRESS TO MAKE
 COMPUTER SOFTWARE PIRACY A FELONY
 WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Testifying before a House subcommittee, James I. Charne, representing Absolute Entertainment Inc., Nintendo of America and the U.S. video game industry, today urged adoption of legislation to strengthen criminal penalties for computer software piracy.
 Charne, vice president of Absolute, the largest U.S. developer of Nintendo-compatible software, testified that domestic and international piracy of copyrighted video games has become a serious threat to the video game industry.
 "We estimate annual losses of more than $1 billion from the displacement of sales of legitimate video games," said Charne before the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and Judicial Administration. "If counterfeiting like this continues unchecked, we believe a substantial number of U.S. companies like mine and thousands of U.S. jobs will be put into jeopardy."
 With his testimony, Charne submitted a letter to Subcommittee Chairman William J. Hughes (D-N.J.), from Nintendo of America Inc. and more than 50 video game developers and publishers expressing support for legislation to stiffen criminal penalties for software copyright violations.
 "Most piracy violations are treated as misdemeanors," said Charne. "Counterfeiting of video games is so lucrative, that we do not believe counterfeiters are the least concern about mere misdemeanor convictions."
 Charne stated that counterfeiters often openly acknowledge their activities. He cited the May 1991 issue of Asian Sources Electronics in which three Taiwanese companies admitted to the ability to produce more than 1 million unauthorized Nintendo games each month.
 Charne urged the subcommittee to move quickly on passage of S. 893, legislation to stiffen penalties for the reproduction or distribution of 50 or more copies of copyrighted computer programs during a 180-day period. Conviction could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment. Lesser penalties could be imposed for the reproduction or distribution of between 10 and 50 copies.
 "We believe that S. 893 would help tremendously in the battle against large-scale software piracy, because felony sanctions have a real deterrent effect," said Charne. "Increased criminal sanctions in the U.S. will also help us persuade other countries to take strong action against pirates."
 According to Charne, most counterfeit video games are currently produced in Taiwan and then shipped to the United States and other nations. Counterfeit video games produced in Korea, Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China have also been discovered.
 Established in 1986, Absolute Entertainment Inc. employs 42 people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and California.
 Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., sells home video products in the United States.
 -0- 8/13/92
 /CONTACT: James L. Rikoff, 202-775-7151; David I. Wilson, 202-775-7971, both of Arter & Hadden for Absolute Entertainment; or Jim Charne of Absolute Entertainment, 201-652-1227/ CO: Absolute Entertainment; Nintendo of America ST: District of Columbia IN: CPR SU: LEG


KD -- DC010 -- 9628 08/13/92 12:17 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 13, 1992
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