The battle against piracy is for life


By Carlos Vasconcellos, O Globo - 20/06/2005

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble says he has never bought a pirated product in his life. Although quite attracted by low prices? ? am I a guy who likes sales? ? he guarantees that he never gave in to counterfeit goods. Noble was in Brazil last week for the International Congress to Combat Piracy and praised the country's efforts to combat this type of crime. And he spoke of the connection between piracy and organized crime:

? We have already found the same phone numbers on the agendas of people arrested for trafficking and crimes against intellectual property.

Is it possible to win the war against piracy?

RONALD NOBLE: Do you want to know if we can eliminate zero piracy? Well, this is a crime that we have to constantly fight against, in retail, in cities, in countries and globally. We have made progress. There are more people in the world today, aware of the connection between piracy and organized crime. It wasn't like that a year ago. Today, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay are conducting their first joint operation against piracy and illegal copying (Operation Jupiter, coordinated by Interpol). For the first time in history, we have the private sector, customs and police working together and sharing information. These examples show that we have moved forward, but whenever there is a possibility of profit, through fraud or scams, criminals will be involved. We will have to fight for the rest of our lives.

How do you see Brazil's efforts against piracy?

NOBLE: In the last year, Brazil's level of cooperation has increased dramatically. For the country, hosting this event is like saying out loud that there is a problem at the Triple Border (between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina) and that the country has to face it. It is a significant posture, of not sweeping the problem under the carpet, of admitting that the problem exists and that in order to overcome it, we must face corruption in that region. Cooperation has grown a lot and Brazil has become a leader in combating this type of crime.

What is your assessment of the special anti-piracy training that Interpol promoted for Brazilian agents?

NOBLE: We hope that training is one of the fundamental aspects of our work. We are trying to get more funds to train more Brazilian agents. Do you know that Brazil is sending its first agent (PF superintendent Augusto Serra Pinto) to work directly at Interpol headquarters in France? He will work on piracy. Former director of the Brazilian Federal Police Armando de Assis Possa is our current chief in Argentina, and in addition, Rio will host the Interpol World Conference next year.

What has been done in the USA and Europe against piracy?

NOBLE: The United States has several strategies. One of them is the civil strategy, which seeks to prosecute in the civil area the people involved in the violation of intellectual property. The second is from the private sector. We have private investigators and companies trying to discover pirated factories and distribution centers. The private sector also shares information with Interpol about countries where pirated products are manufactured or distributed. And, of course, marketing campaigns to educate the public, making it clear that this is not a victimless crime.

How do these connections work?

NOBLE: Look at the type of seizures being made by Operation Jupiter: millions and millions of DVDs, CDs, medicines, cigarettes. For a person to make millions of CDs and DVDs, pack, issue counterfeit bills, send to intermediate countries and then sell, you have to have a multimillion dollar chain, repeating itself every week around the world. This is classic organized crime activity. It is not enough to apprehend products. We have to get the names of the people who have the products, their list of phone contacts, the addresses they use, their fake documents. We have already found the same phone numbers on the agendas of people arrested for trafficking and arrested for crimes against intellectual property.

Do you agree with the thesis that the high price of original products makes pirates more competitive?

NOBLE: We have to be realistic. Whenever there is an extraordinary price difference between the legal and the illegal product, the penalty is small and the possibility of conviction is low, you will have much more illegal activity.

Did you never buy a pirated product?

NOBLE: Never. And I say more: I'm a guy who likes to buy on sale. With a 50% discount you start to interest me. What we have to do is educate people and say: this is theft. It is a daily job. I understand, as a human being, what goes through the mind of a poor citizen, who has the opportunity to buy something for his children at a price he can afford. But for organized crime, I definitely have no sympathy.