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Anti-Piracy Efforts Succeed on Multiple Fronts
But the War Continues Against a $4 Billion Gorilla
By Margee Fagelson
(more articles from this author)
2001-02-08
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Man, it's been a lousy year already for music piracy and CD counterfeiters! Two Russians were caught, tried and jailed with an order for deportation. Vladimir Stroguine and Alexander Tanov set up a counterfeiting factory in North London and had supplies smuggled over from St. Petersburg. They even had their own couriers set up, with false passports! Stateside, it's RIAA-3, CD pirates-0.

Across the pond...

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) had taken an interest in Mr. Stroguine's actions after being tipped off to his involvement in a massive Russian CD counterfeiting operation. They planted an undercover policeman, who 'befriended' Mr. Stroguine and soon learned that his actions went deeper than just the offenses against the recording industry. What the cop found was an extensive credit-card and document forgery plant and when the raid came down, it wasn't only CDs but fake passports, etc. as well.

Although Stroguine's interest in counterfeit musical products had waned, the recording industry associations were nonetheless pleased that the operation was shut down and the perpetrators had been delivered their sentencing. The IFPI's Chairman and CEO, Jay Berman, had this to say: "Pirate CDs are a mainstream activity of international organized crime rings. The British courts have recognized this and responded in a way that is a lesson for governments and judiciaries the world over."

David Martin, Director of Anti-Piracy at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI): "This is just the kind of tough sentencing we need if the British record industry is going to remain one of our greatest assets."

A February 2nd press release offers the following background information: "IFPI heads the music industry's fight against the fast-growing traffic in pirate CDs, now valued at more than $4 billion worldwide. The problem is closely linked to other forms of organized crime, including drugs, firearms and money-laundering.

"BPI is the national group for the recording industry in the UK and represents over 240 companies.

"Russia has one of the world's highest rates of music piracy, with more than 60% of all recordings sold illegally inside the country and large quantities of pirate exports going around Europe and elsewhere."

Near our nations's capitol??

Rodger 'Cowboy' Bynum was caught red-handed in July 1999. A police investigation yielded a search and seizure warrant on Mr. Bynum's residence. The search resulted in the seizure of 58,975 counterfeit CDs, pressed on CD-Rs, examples of those Bynum was distributing to regional vendors.

On January 26, 2001, Rodger 'Cowboy' Bynum got his comeuppance – or at least what the RIAA thinks of as comeuppance. He was sentenced to 24 months federal incarceration and will have to pay $290,000 in restitution to the RIAA.

The RIAA's Frank Creighton, Senior Vice President and Director of anti-piracy: "This should send a strong message that the entertainment industry takes piracy matters very seriously. Counterfeiters will face unpleasant consequences if they continue to manufacture and distribute pirated material."

Does this mean no more $5 CDs?

One of the biggest complaints by pro-file-sharers is that the actual, tangible evidences of music piracy are blatantly ignored. On every street corner in New York – even right in front of a 'real' vendor, like Sam Goody, Virgin or HMV – there are average-looking characters with a card table, a tablecloth, and hundreds of the latest, greatest CDs...for only 'Fie-dolla.' This, it seems, is justifiable commerce. Until now.

The Recording Industry Association of America joined forces with a midtown Manhattan police precinct to break up a Manhattan counterfeit CD operation. These long-overdue strong arm tactics resulted in the confiscation of thousands of probably counterfeit CDs and three arrests. What took them so long?

Mr. Creighton's soundbyte: "We were pleased to work with the New York authorities on yet another successful effort combating music piracy in the New York area. This should send a strong message to music pirates across the country that counterfeiting will not be tolerated and they will be found."

If God had wanted Texans to ski...

The Dallas Police Department – with the gracious assistance of the RIAA – broke up two very costly counterfeiting operations in the Dallas area. The combined income of the two operations is thought to have exceeded $50 million.

"This was an example of top-notch investigative work on the part of the Dallas authorities," said Mr. Creighton. "This should send a strong message that no matter the size of the operation, music piracy will not be tolerated and we will find you. We are sure our strong relationship with law enforcement and prosecutors investigating these matters will continue."

Both warrants issued were against alleged counterfeit recordings plants. One was CD-R and one was cassette, and it is believed that they were somehow connected. Authorities suspect that they were using this manufacturing plant for products distributed throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The CD-R plant – capable of producing 1.9 million CD-Rs per year if operated 24 hours per day – could have meant a $30 million loss in annual revenue for the music industry. The cassette plant, under the same conditions, was capable of in excess of two million cassettes with a loss potential of $23 million for the industry.

A list of items seized includes:
8,974 alleged counterfeit CD-Rs
593 masters
38 CD-R burners
two color copiers
shrinkwrap machine

At the cassette plant, items seized included:
27,631 alleged counterfeit cassettes
8,546 printing plates
511 master cassettes, four duplicating units
two cassette imprinters
one shrink-wrap machine

Lest we think that the RIAA has – in fact – been snoozing, it's only been for a couple of years as many of those arrested were subjects of RIAA investigations and were arrested for similar charges in 1993. So, it's really only since the internet becoming a household concept and file-sharing the biggest risk to safety and the American way.

Pirates beware!! The RIAA is bigger and badder than ever before. Once again, they're after you!! As well they should be.

Linkography

BPI - www.bpi.co.uk
IFPI - www.ifpi.org
RIAA - www.riaa.com

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» The European Commission Looks to Battle Couterfeiting & Piracy on a United Front (2000-12-13)
» RIAA Mid-Year Statistics Show Gains in Anti-Piracy Efforts (2000-09-29)
» RIAA Works with Phoenix and New York Officials in Anti-Piracy Raids (2000-08-21)

Related News from Mi2N:
» British Courts Punish Sophisticated Russian Credit Card And Pirate CD Ring
» RIAA Anti-Piracy Target Sentenced For Counterfeit Operation
» RIAA, New York Police Shut Down Area CD Pirates
» RIAA, Dallas Authorities Break Up Two Large Counterfeit Music Operations


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