Country loses R $ 84 billion a year from piracy


By Claudia Rolli and Fátima Fernandes, Folha de S. Paulo - 24/04/2005

Brazil fails to collect R $ 84 billion and to create about 2 million jobs a year with the counterfeiting of products and smuggling in the country. Enough money to pay pensions and benefits for eight months, considering the R $ 10,5 billion spent last month.

The loss of revenue and jobs was reported by the Ministry of Justice based on updated information from various sectors of the economy. Illegal trade represents up to 60% of the consumption of some products in the country, in the case of computer programs - out of ten software, six are fake.

Although the United States pressures Brazil to fight piracy and the government itself reports that it is acting - in recent weeks, the police seized thousands of illegal goods in São Paulo - the misdemeanor occurs even in the most famous postcard of the largest city Brazilian.

In the middle of Paulista avenue, Folha's report observed, on the 13th of this month, at the Stand Center, a shopping center that has been operating since 1995, the sale of pirated games and CDs, contraband electronics, bags, sneakers and even coveted Diesel jeans and necklaces from the famous fake Tiffany's jewelry store.

This happened 18 hours after a blitz of police officers from the Deic (Department of Investigation on Organized Crime, a division of the Civil Police) at the site, which resulted in the arrest of 12 people and the seizure of 25,8 software for computers and games, in addition to counterfeit CDs.

Nabil Sahyoun, president of Alshop, an association of mall shopkeepers, says that the trade in illegal products will only decrease in the country with the permanent action of the authorities.
"The government needs to have control over the products that enter the market and also make consumers aware that they do not buy counterfeit goods."


At the Stand Center, storeowners set up a “logistics” scheme to sell illegal goods and escape seizures. For three hours, Folha's report followed the trade on the spot. In boxes that sell games, only empty boxes are displayed. The customer chooses in a folder, which contains reproductions of the game covers, the products he intends to purchase.

Once the choice is made, an employee leaves the booth to fetch the product from another location. The report saw the salesman step out of the box and pick up game software on a golden Voyage, parked next to the Stand Center. Some products are also stored in the basement of the establishment.

The lack of structure and even the existence of laws that prevent the closing of stores due to non-payment of taxes end up preventing the more effective fight against the trade of illegal products, according to the Civil and Federal police and the Federal Revenue Service.
A few blocks from the Stand Center, in the Promocenter on Rua Augusta, employees sold sneakers, CDs and "generic" games - a synonym used by shopkeepers to avoid the expletive "pirate".

In one of the boxes at the Promocenter, Nike Shox shoes cost R $ 250. In another booth, the “generic” shoe cost R $ 95. In shopping malls in São Paulo, shoes cost at least R $ 500.

“Nobody has the money today to spend R $ 500 on tennis shoes. The “generic” is exactly the same and costs only R $ 95 ″, said N., an employee at a Promocenter stand. While she was talking to the report, two military policemen were patrolling in front of the Promocenter entrance door.

The saleswoman's reasoning is the same as that of employees at a game store at Multishop Pelotas, in Vila Mariana, opened in 1992. A game for the PlayStation 2 video game, the original of which costs an average of R $ 250, can be purchased there for R $ 20.

“It is not original, but it has quality. If there is a problem, the customer can change the product within a week. Our games are purchased from a factory here in São Paulo ”, says salesman F.

The natural way in which the vendors of these establishments offer illegal products was found by Folha not only in these shopping centers. In a shopping mall in the south of the city, this speech was the same in two games and toy stores.

Employees offered consumers copies of games for R $ 25, but “only for customers”. They said that the stores were not at risk because the inspection “never reached” that place.

“What was considered a social phenomenon 20 years ago is seen today as an economic and organized crime problem, involving the Chinese, Korean and Lebanese mafias”, says Luiz Paulo Barreto, executive secretary of the Ministry of Justice and president of the Council National Anti-Piracy and Offenses Against Intellectual Property, created in October 2004.

The government created this council, according to Barreto, because trade in illegal products grew and spread throughout the country. “Even at the traditional craft fair in Caruaru [Pernambuco] there are already pirated products on sale, such as glasses and watches,” he says.