Sophisticated Piracy

The Recording Industry Association of America recently released a mixed report on the state of pirated music, saying more counterfeit CDs were seized in 2004 but there was also a major increase in organized illegal manufacturing.

“The practice and trade of music piracy have become more sophisticated, cunning and connected to organized crime,” RIAA Executive VP of Anti-Piracy Brad Buckles said in a statement.

The RIAA reported a 58 percent increase in seizures of lookalike counterfeit CDs with sophisticated artwork, most of which can be traced back to smaller CD copying plants. That’s 1.2 million counterfeit discs seized in 2004.

The organization found that CD-R burning operations experienced a consolidation last year. In the Eastern U.S., organized crime syndicates are monopolizing the market, causing the price of pirated CD-Rs to rapidly decline, the RIAA said.

“In 2004, the number of counterfeit CD-Rs seized declined 27 percent, while the seizure of counterfeit labels rose 372 percent and seizures of CD-R burner equipment nearly doubled compared to 2003 levels,” the organization reported.

Law enforcement agencies are beginning to shift their attention away from street vendors and toward the illegal manufacturers, the RIAA said, and now police and investigators are more likely to seize raw materials than finished product.