BRUSSELS, July 21 (Reuters) - The
recording industry's trade body said on Wednesday it has asked the
European Union to intervene to help stop a flood of tens of
millions of pirated CDs from Ukraine.
The International Federation of
the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said Ukraine was eastern Europe's
"new piracy trouble spot." Ukraine harboured Europe's
fastest-growing CD pirate industry, estimated to be costing record
companies more than $125 million a year, IFPI said.
IFPI drew attention to the problem
in a letter to acting European Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans
van den Broek before an EU-Ukraine summit to be held in Kiev on
In the letter, IFPI says the EU
should urge Ukraine "in the strongest terms" to take all
necessary steps to halt illegal CD production and export, which it
said was seriously disrupting markets throughout the region,
including the EU.
"Ukraine wants to participate
in the world's trading community, to join the WTO (World Trade
Organisation) and to enjoy closer links with the EU," IFPI
Chairman and Chief Executive Jason Berman said in a press
"The message to be conveyed
to the Ukraine government is that failing to provide the proper
copyright protection and allowing its CD plants to swamp the world
with illegal CDs seriously jeopardises these objectives," he
Stefan Krawczyk, senior adviser on
international trade for IFPI, told Reuters that the European
Commission had promised to raise the issue of pirated CDs with
Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma
will meet Finland's Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and Commission
officials on Friday.
IFPI said pirate CD manufacturing
in Ukraine dwarfed levels seen in Bulgaria, which it called
Europe's previous piracy black spot, two years ago.
It said much of Bulgaria's pirate
manufacturing had moved to Ukraine, which now had an estimated
production capacity of 70 million optical discs, including CD-Roms
and video CDs.
This was more than twice the level
of estimated legitimate demand in the entire region of central and
eastern Europe, it said.
The trade group said about one
million pirate CDs, made in Ukraine, had been seized on the
Russian-Belarus border in the last few weeks and 34,000
Ukraine-made pirate CDs had been seized on the northeast Italian
Pirated CDs had been seized of
recordings by well-known artists such as Robbie Williams, Roxette,
Elton John, George Michael and Luciano Pavarotti, it said.
Traffic in pirated CDs was
coordinated through sophisticated cross-border trading networks
and there was evidence that organized crime was involved, it said.
In its letter to van den Broek,
IFPI called for Ukraine to introduce legislative reforms to
strengthen copyright protection of recordings, to introduce
tougher criminal penalties to deter piracy and to give police and
customs greater powers to act against pirates.
It also called for the
introduction of new government CD plant regulations, including
compulsory use of identification codes by CD manufacturers. IFPI
said it planned to open a new office in Kiev to help Ukraine
authorities fight piracy.