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'DON'T GET CAPTURED BY PIRATES THIS CHRISTMAS'

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Culture minister Kim Howells today invited the general public to join...
Culture minister Kim Howells today invited the general public to join

forces with the government and the music industry to combat the

problem of piracy - which is most acute during the run up to

Christmas.

Kim Howells - who took part in a raid to recover illegal CDs, as well

as video games, DVDs and videos in south Wales today - said

government and the industry must make it clear that royalties earned

from music sustain the whole industry, not just the most successful

artists and record companies.

And he said that the public had a part to play by not buying pirate

copies of cds that cost the industry dearly at Christmas, when record

sales are at their highest.

Kim Howells plans to meet music industry leaders early in the new

year to discuss tackling the problem.

He said:

'Piracy is the enemy of creativity. It doesn't just affect what the

papers like to term 'corporate fat cats' or multi-millionaire rock

stars. It also impacts on the fledgling musician fighting to make

ends meet, the struggling new record company trying to make a name in

an already crowded market place, the worker employed in a record

plant whose job could be threatened.

'Today I am asking consumers to join forces with the government and

the music industry to drive out piracy. The urgency is greater than

ever, with the internet opening up new avenues of accessing music

illegally. I will meet with music industry leaders to discuss how we

can best take this forward early in the new year.

'Christmas is when the effects of piracy are most acutely felt.

Nearly a quarter of all record sales are in December. The general

public has a key role to play at this time of the year. They should

ensure they don't get captured by the pirates this Christmas. True

fans of music must understand that each time they buy a pirate copy

of a CD or download music illegally, they are putting a nail into

the coffin of the industry they love.

'But we can't expect them to change their buying habits if we don't

educate them about the problem. Government and the industry must get

across the message that piracy is theft, whatever form it takes.

'And, of course this isn't just a message from the music industry

exclusively. Piracy affects the whole of the creative industries, who

all have a part to play in driving the pirates out of business.'

Recent steps taken by the government to tackle piracy include:

- The secondment of Stephen Navin as government music adviser to act

as a link between the government and the music industry. Piracy is

one of the issues Mr Navin is currently advising ministers on.

- Supporting the coverage of intellectual property issues in new

citizenship lessons in secondary schools, by issuing a CD-ROM to

schools to underline the importance of copyright.

- Support for Dr Vincent Cable's Private Members Bill on copyright

which became law on 20 November 2002. This increases the penalties

for wilful copyright infringement from a maximum of two years

imprisonment with an unlimited fine to a maximum of 10 years

imprisonment with an unlimited fine.

Trade and industry minister Melanie Johnson said:

'As Christmas approaches, the pirates will be out in force to cheat

consumers.

'Some fakes may seem like a bargain, but they don't come with

guarantees. The person who sells you a fake won't be around to help

when it doesn't work.

'As minister for consumer affairs and copyright policy, I am

delighted that enforcers are being handed extra tools to fight this

crime.

'But the message to consumers tempted by apparent bargains is crucial

too - if you buy fakes you will only support these criminals and

threaten legitimate industry.

'And always remember, only the genuine article can offer a good

deal.'

Notes

1. The creative industries employ nearly two million people and

account for almost 8% of Gross Domestic Product.

2. The European Copyright Directive will further strengthen copyright

protection. It was particularly drawn up to improve protection across

the EU in the digital environment. The government has recently

consulted on the best way of transposing the Directive into UK

legislation.

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