EC report: Counterfeit seizures drop in '05


Seizures of counterfeit movies, music and software plummeted by half last year, a European Commission report indicated (HR 11/13).

But the EC said Friday that the drop in the number of seizures reflects the rapid changes in modern technology, with a large share of business now shifting from the physical piracy of CDs and DVDs to Internet downloads.

"The key is to be faster than the counterfeiters," European Union Taxation and Customs commissioner Laszlo Kovacs said. "We must quickly identify, and act to deal with, new routes of fraud and constantly changing counterfeit patterns."

Kovacs said that the public has a major role to play in combating counterfeiting. "If there is no demand, there is no supply," he said, warning that the purchase of pirated goods is funding criminals who also make potentially lethal drugs.

The report reveals that the number of DVDs, CDs, cassettes and software seized last year was 9.7 million, representing 13% of all items seized by EU authorities — 52% of the 2004 figure. In terms of cases registered by EU customs officials, the figure was 1,569, about 6% of the total.

The main sources of seized music, movies and software were China at 51%, followed by Switzerland at 19%, Hong Kong at 12% and Singapore at 7%. In case terms, China again was at the top, representing 22%, followed by Thailand (20%), Indonesia (10%) and Hong Kong (7%).

The EC launched a new action plan on customs in November 2005, and Kovacs said that a number of concrete results have been achieved. Customs officials from across the EU have worked together on a number of targeted raids at ports and airports.