RIAA Releases Round-Up Of 2003 Physical Goods Anti-Piracy Efforts

RIAA Releases Round-Up Of 2003 Physical Goods Anti-Piracy Efforts

Stepped Up Focus On Latin Music Piracy Pays Off


Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–11 de mayo de 2004–The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today released its annual tally of statistics and enforcement efforts against physical goods piracy. Among the highlights, new initiatives aimed at strengthening Latin music anti-piracy programs resulted in a 40 percent increase in counterfeit Latin product seized in 2003 versus the year before.

Seizures of counterfeit and pirate CD-Rs, the low-tech form of physical piracy seen on the streets, again surpassed the five million mark in 2003. The RIAA’s Anti-Piracy Unit seized 1.4 million illicit Latin music recordings.

“Piracy continues to be a disproportionate problem for the Latin music genre in particular. Our investment in new anti-piracy initiatives focusing on Latin music is beginning to pay dividends, but there is more that must be done to address this problem,” said Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President and Director of Anti-Piracy at the RIAA. “We are working with law enforcement to bring down major piracy kingpins producing counterfeit product, and targeting areas where this music is especially rampant — flea markets, retail outlets and on the street.”

The large numbers of CD-Rs seized is a function of the fact that the illegal manufacture and distribution of pirated music has become considerably easier in recent years due to computer technology developments and the low cost of replication materials and equipment. Commercial piracy, which requires large and costly facilities, can now be done cheaply and on a smaller scale.

Commercial-scale counterfeiting nonetheless continues to be a major problem. Though the 2003 numbers for CDs seized reveal a dramatic increase, the number is still small compared to cheaper CD-Rs.

“Given the fact that commercial counterfeit CDs blend much more readily into the marketplace because they are harder to spot, it is likely that the seizure data represents just the tip of the iceberg,” added Buckles. “As the nature of street piracy changes, so do our enforcement efforts. We need everyone to do their part to help address the piracy problem, which continues to hurt legitimate retailers, artists and songwriters, and everyone else involved in bringing music to the public.”

Some of The Highlights Of Second Half Of 2003

RETAIL: The RIAA continued its retail anti-piracy program by sending 30 additional civil demands to businesses that were selling pirated music. The initiative, designed to address the increasing spread of illegal sound recordings sold at smaller, established businesses like gas stations, convenience stores and grocery markets, has netted several settlements and placed the retail industry on notice that the RIAA will vigorously defend its members’ rights against such entities. In May 2003, the RIAA, on behalf of the major record companies, brought lawsuits against 18 retail owners that had received such demand letters and either ignored them or refused to settle at an acceptable amount. The RIAA has already won judgments in many of these lawsuits, including one for almost $2 million against a gas station/food mart in Florida.

FLEA MARKETS: The RIAA stepped up its efforts to curb the availability and trafficking of pirated music sold at flea markets. In October, a lawsuit was brought against the owner of a Columbus, New Jersey flea market for flagrantly and repeatedly ignoring numerous demands to curtail the sale of pirated CDs and cassettes. This follows two earlier lawsuits against the owners and operators of flea markets in Houston and Sacramento, California, with the record companies winning a summary judgment ruling in the California case earlier this year.

The district attorney of San Bernardino, California recently brought charges against local flea market owners, the first-ever instance of a local, state or federal law enforcement agency filing civil charges for repeatedly turning a blind eye to pirated music sold at flea market.

Efforts to target flea market piracy have resulted in dozens of previously illicit markets voluntarily taking proactive steps to prevent the sale of pirate music on their premises.

PIRACY KINGPIN INDICTED BY JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia indicted Khalid Ahmed Satary in November. Satary ran a major counterfeiting operation that seeded pirated tapes and CDs throughout the Southeast. RIAA anti-piracy investigators and lawyers, who worked with both federal and state law enforcement officials on gathering evidence for the arrest and indictment, characterized the news as a major blow to the manufacture and distribution of pirated music throughout the Southeast.

For example, in September 2002, more than 98,000 unauthorized sound recordings were seized when the City of Atlanta Police Department raided the Bank Head Flea Market, which Satary used as a major distribution center. The flea market, a virtual supermarket for purchasing unauthorized sound recording, is divided into retail and wholesale sections for the purchasing of unauthorized sound recordings. In January 2003, another raid was conducted and more than 40,000 unauthorized sound recordings were seized. In November 2003, the suspects moved their operation ten miles down the road and were raided by the FBI. During this operation four men were arrested and over 127,000 unauthorized sound recordings were seized.


In December, members of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Metro Transit Police Department and the U.S. Park Police assisted in a raid at the RFK Stadium Flea Market. Five people were taken into custody while an unknown number of vendors fled. More than 21,000 pirated and counterfeit CD-Rs and 2,000 DVDs were seized.

The Riverdale, California Police Department obtained a search warrant in November for what appeared to be an illegal CD-R replicating facility. A search was conducted and 64 CD-R burners were seized along with more than 12,000 unauthorized sound recordings.

In Chicago, a search warrant was issued for a suspected illegal manufacturing operation that was supplying the local street vendors. As a result of this search, two computers, 56 CD-R burners and more than 5,000 pirated CD-Rs were seized.

The Detroit city police were investigating a stolen property ring and discovered a CD-R manufacturing facility in the back of a business. Seized during this operation were 24 CD-R burners, more than 2,300 illegal sound recordings and additional duplication equipment.

In July, the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff’s Department raided several stores and a home in connection with the manufacturing of illegal sound recordings. Seized during this operation were more than 10,500 counterfeit CD-Rs, three computers and 40 CD-R burners.

During a “holiday blitz,” over the course of a 27-day period in December 2003 (December 4 – December 30), the RIAA’s West Coast Anti-Piracy Unit confiscated 254,442 counterfeit or pirated discs. Eighty percent of the product seized was Latin music.

In October, the New York City Police Department executed a search warrant at a Brooklyn location. Forty-two high-speed burners and 2,300 counterfeit CD-Rs were seized, and five individuals were arrested. An additional 53,000 counterfeit/pirate CD-Rs were seized at a second location based on information provided by one of the individuals arrested.

The Recording Industry Association of America is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA(R) members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States. In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review – – state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA(R) also certifies Gold(R), Platinum(R), Multi-Platinum(TM), and Diamond sales awards, and launched Los Premios De Oro y Platino(TM), an award celebrating Latin music sales.




Jonathan Lamy, 202-775-0101


RIAA Releases Round-Up Of 2003 Physical Goods Anti-Piracy Efforts