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Businesses unite to fight piracy

By Jorn Madslien
BBC News business reporter at the Bascap event in London
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4307498.stm

The battle against counterfeiters of everything from DVDs or computer 
software to medicine, toys and car parts is about to get serious.

Captains of industry during anti-piracy and -counterfeiting talks in 
London, 4 October 2005
The executives want their peers to join the anti-piracy battle

More than a dozen business executives - including Microsoft chief Steve 
Ballmer, Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou and GlaxoSmithKline's 
European president Andrew Witty - have joined forces and are urging their 
peers worldwide to wage war on piracy.

"Piracy remains a real problem for virtually every sector in every country 
in the world," insists Eric Nicoli, chairman of EMI Group and co-chairman 
of the cross-industry project named Bascap - or Business Action to Stop 
Counterfeiting and Piracy - which represents businesses that employ a 
million people and serve a billion customers.

In the past five years, technology has changed so much that it is now 
possible to "replicate perfectly pretty much any product anywhere in the 
world", Mr Nicoli says.

"This is having devastating effects on our businesses, the economy and 
wider society."

Health and safety

At its most extreme, counterfeited goods can cost lives, insists Mr Nicoli.

The fight against piracy is never-ending
EMI chairman Eric Nicoli

"There are some industries that haven't been discussed very much. One is 
pharmaceuticals," he says.

Worryingly he points out that the industry estimates that a tenth of all 
drugs are made by pirates, while more than half the drugs sold in the 
developing world are counterfeits and thus not subject to quality and 
safety checks.

"Car parts is another example where counterfeiting represents danger [to 
the consumer]," Mr Nicoli adds.

The toy or food industries are also hit by pirates who routinely ignore 
health and safety standards.

"We are particularly concerned about the risks for consumers from unsafe 
counterfeit products," says Nestle's chairman and chief executive Peter 
Brabeck-Letmathe.

Economic damage

The sub-culture of pirates and counterfeiters has grown into a $600bn beast 
whose growth poses a serious threat to economic development, and this is 
the case in rich and poor countries alike, the executives insist.

Bascap goals:

Explain how fakes and pirates harm the economy and society
Build respect for intellectual property rights
Encourage legal enforcement of intellectual property rights

"Intellectual property has become very, very important to both developed 
and developing nations," says Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE and chief 
executive of NBC Universal.

In the developed world, jobs are lost in creative industries, such as the 
music business or among software makers, and tax payers are hit as 
governments collect less taxes from retailers selling everything from 
perfume and cosmetics to fashion and sportswear.

"It doesn't really make any difference what business you're in," says Mr 
Wright. "No-one is immune here."

Poor regions of the world suffer too, though for different reasons.

"Counterfeiting and piracy pose a massive problem for the economies of 
developing countries," says Tariq Rangoonwala, chief executive of Home 
Products International.

"It is very difficult to attract foreign investment when your markets are 
flooded with fake products."

For this reason, "no country wants to be known as a piracy location", says 
Mr Wright.

Name and shame

When quizzed by BBC News, none of the executives would name any known 
piracy locations.

However, Bascap intends to do so once it has "robust data" to back such 
allegations, observes Mr Nicoli.

It plans to create counterfeiting and piracy indices, and to compile a 
compendium of case studies and statistics that can be shared between 
businesses and governments.

This, it says, would become the first global cross-industry stock take of 
the counterfeiting and piracy problem.

Pile of pirate CDs
There are millions upon millions of pirated CDs and DVDs in circulation

"The fact that business leaders from so many sectors have united to combat 
counterfeiting and piracy gives an indication of the enormity of the issue 
facing the global economy," agrees Mr Brabeck-Letmathe.

But first and foremost, the companies will "count on the support of 
governments to address the issue", says Mr Brabeck-Letmathe.

To achieve this, several countries must introduce laws that better protect 
intellectual property rights, while elsewhere - where legislation is 
already in place - enforcement would need to be improved, the executives say.

"We need an adequate legal framework and enforcement capacity," says 
Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou, who is also co-chairman of 
the initiative.

"We are very far from that even in the US, and Europe is quite worse."

Lengthy battle

But if governments need to be better educated about the effects of 
intellectual property theft, this is even more pressing when it comes to 
the counterfeiters' customers.

"The consumer who lacks education and buys a fake DVD will see no harm in 
buying counterfeit software," observes Mr Nicoli.

As yet, it is too early for Bascap to "be specific about any aspect of any 
industry", and "no-one should imagine that this will eradicate piracy 
overnight", Mr Nicoli says.

But Bascap is here to stay.

Says Mr Nicoli: "The fight against piracy is never-ending."

------------------------------------------


Also in this issue:

- Katrina aftermath wireless proving ground
   Hours after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and knocked 
out   telecommunications across much of the region, Mac Dearman visited 
shelters in northern   Louisiana to connect telephones.
- Fuel cells 'need political push'
   The world must actively push for alternative energy technologies such as 
fuel cells, says   Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific 
advisor.
- Businesses unite to fight piracy
   The battle against counterfeiters of everything from DVDs or computer 
software to   medicine, toys and car parts is about to get serious.
- Google and Sun want Office users
   Google and Sun Microsystems have joined forces to challenge the 
dominance of Microsoft's   Office software.
- Google-Sun alliance hints at future deals
   The fresh alliance between Google and Sun Microsystems is seen in some 
quarters as perhaps   the toughest threat yet to Microsoft's dominance as 
the world's leader in the personal   computer software market.
- Where Isn't Google?
   I was recently helping my daughter locate French-English translations on 
the Internet, and   we couldn't find the information we needed through 
nearly a half-dozen online versions of   widely used dictionaries. Where we 
ultimately found the translations: Google, or more   specifically, Google 
Language Tools.
- EU to follow Google's lead with online library
   Google's internet library project will face competition from Yahoo!, but 
also from a less   predictable rival: the European Commission announced its 
own plan on Friday. And it has an   advantage: if copyright laws interfere 
with its plans it can change the laws.
- Cell phone networks at risk?
   Cell phone networks in major American cities are vulnerable to being 
shut down by a flood   of text messages from malicious hackers, according 
to a published report.
- Security Bytes: Kaspersky patch for AV hole on its way
   Kaspersky patch for AV security hole due out today Russian security 
software provider   Kaspersky Labs plans to release a fix for a potentially 
serious hole in Windows-based   antivirus software that could allow an 
attacker to gain control of systems running   Kaspersky's products.
- Free music used as spyware lure, FTC says
   The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday it was suing a firm for 
allegedly using the   promise of free music downloads to sneak spyware onto 
unsuspecting victims' computers.
- Firefox promo site taken down by hackers
   Spread Firefox, the marketing Web site for the open-source Firefox Web 
browser, has been   hacked again and is expected to be offline until later 
this month.
- Google's Wireless Plans May Pose Threat To Telecom Companies
   Google has submitted a proposal to offer citywide Wi-Fi in San 
Francisco. If chosen as a   provider, Google could compete with the city's 
local telephone and cable companies, such   as SBC Communications and Comcast.
- Government Cracks Down on Spyware Operation
   Government regulators are trying to shut down a company they say 
secretly downloaded   spyware onto the computers of unwitting Internet 
users, rendering them helpless to a flood   of pop-up ads, computer crashes 
and other annoyances.
- Library offers tutoring, free and online
   Hey, students: Homework got you stumped? Forget paying $40 an hour or 
more for a private   tutor. Log on to the San Jose Public Library's Web site.
- Dutch test sending disaster text messages to mobile phones
   The Dutch government started testing a special warning system that will 
send text messages   to mobile phones to alert the population in the event 
of a disaster.
- Flock To Offer More Social Web Browsing
   Today, at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, a California startup 
is set to announce   a new Web browser based on open source Mozilla 
technologies, the software at the core of   the popular FireFox browser. 
Dubbed Flock, the new browser is designed to improve the   handling of 
bookmarks, surfing history, blogs, and RSS feeds. The company, also known 
as   Flock, calls it a "social Web browser."
- Firefox Advocacy Site Hacked
   For the second time in three months, a security breach has shut down the 
marketing Web   site used to promote the Firefox browser. Members of the 
Spread Firefox community have   learned that their Spreadfirefox.com site 
was hit by attackers looking to exploit a bug in   the TWiki collaboration 
software that had been running on the server.
- Spychips Sees an RFID Conspiracy
   A new book by privacy advocates makes the case that corporations and 
government agencies   are in collusion to put tiny radio transmitters on 
nearly everything we buy. Companies say   it's about providing thought 
leadership, not the Mark of the Beast.
- Bush military bird flu role slammed
   A call by President George W. Bush for Congress to give him the power to 
use the military   in law enforcement roles in the event of a bird flu 
pandemic has been criticized as akin   to introducing martial law.
- Web attack extorts by encryption
   Security experts today warned of a newly discovered attack in which 
hackers encrypt data   on a compromised PC and demand payment for the 
decryption key.


Member: Association for International Business
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