Music industry to step up anti-piracy fight
By Tim Burt in Cannes
Published: January 19 2003 21:58 | Last Updated: January 19 2003 21:58
The music industry on Sunday vowed to step up its fight against fraud
after losing more than $5bn of sales to illegal CD piracy and internet
downloading last year.
Losses linked to piracy were up almost 20 per cent, or about
$700m-$800m on the $4.3bn value of illegally copied CDs and internet
files in 2002, according to internal industry estimates.
Trade groups representing the "music majors" - Universal, Sony, EMI,
Warner Music and BMG - and thousands of independent labels vowed to
respond with new licensing deals for legitimate on-line services,
while stepping up seizures of illegal music discs.
Global music sales fell almost 10 per cent last year, reducing the
retail value of the market to about $30bn, its lowest in almost a
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents
US labels, said piracy was responsible for two-thirds of last year's
sales decline in the US. Falling music sales have undermined profits
at groups such as EMI and Universal. Industry analysts have named EMI
as a possible merger candidate for BMG or Warner Music.
Hilary Rosen, chairman of the RIAA, said: "The future could be bleak
unless we are more pro-active in both lifting consumer sales and
anti-piracy measures." The RIAA last week agreed with leading computer
companies including Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard to promote
technologies that help protect copyright music sales.
Speaking at an industry conference in Cannes, Ms Rosen also urged
governments to do more to combat piracy. "At the government level,
this effort is woefully under-resourced," she said.
But one of the industry's biggest stars, Robbie Williams, the British
singer currently topping the European album charts, appeared to
"I think [piracy] is great, really I do. There's nothing no one can do
about it," he said. "I'm sure my record label [EMI] would hate me
saying it, and my management and accountants." The singer said he had
discussed piracy issues with several record labels before re-signing
with EMI last year in a deal worth an estimated £30m.
"I went and saw all the labels and asked 'What are you going to do
about it?' and I heard a lot of hot air," he added.
Jay Berman, chairman of the IFPI, the trade group representing 1,500
record companies outside the US, said: "We're not backing down; we
don't believe Robbie is right in assessing the problem." Mr Berman
said the IFPI had helped close 55 illegal CD factories last year and
seized 34m illegal discs, while promoting legitimate on-line music
services and urging governments to implement the new European
directive on copyright protection.