New attack on piracy involves even Mercosur


By Vannildo Mendes, The State of São Paulo - 04/09/2004

BRASILIA - The federal government will create, by presidential decree, in the next few days, a national council to coordinate State actions, to be adopted throughout the country and within the scope of Mercosur, to combat piracy. Prepared by the Ministry of Justice, the draft decree is being analyzed by the Civil House before being taken for the signature of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The council's idea is to deflect the current focus, centered on repressing the army of street vendors scattered throughout the country and attacking the big businessmen who exploit criminal activity.

Last year alone, the various forms of piracy caused a loss of about R $ 30 billion to Brazil. The country, according to government data, is the fourth largest consumer market for pirated products in the world, second only to China, Russia and Paraguay. "The problem took on gigantic proportions and became a priority for the government," said the executive secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Luiz Paulo Teles Barreto, rapporteur of the draft.

Representatives of the segments affected by piracy (cinema, recording industry, publishing, software and industry in general) and the ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Culture and Development, in addition to the National Congress, will be part of the Council. The idea is to harden the fight against counterfeiting and involve all Mercosur countries in joint investigations.

In November, the ministers of the countries of the South American bloc will sign the first measure in this direction, an agreement to prevent and combat crimes that threaten intellectual property rights.

For Brazil, the expansion of the policy to combat piracy to the whole continent is fundamental, because Paraguay, a member of Mercosur, is an irradiating pole of this type of crime.

According to data from the recording industry, Paraguay imports 140 million blank Tawan CDs a year. The country's domestic consumption is 3 million CDs. The rest, 137 million CDs, is shipped to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

In 1997, 21 platinum records (sales over 500 thousand copies) were delivered to Brazilian artists. That year, only 3% of CDs sold in Brazil were pirates. Last year, that index rose to 59%. And only two artists won the platinum record. According to the recording industry, 5 legal establishments were closed, causing 60 layoffs.

As a result, approximately 30% of the artists were “expelled” from the market, according to Barreto. "We are killing the Brazilian music industry by asphyxiation," he noted. In the cigarette business, sangria is no different: The country is failing to collect R $ 1,4 billion a year in taxes because of the pirated tobacco trade from Paraguay.