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Appeared on: Monday, May 08, 2000
Polish copyright piracy proves hard to squash

"..International pressure has forced Poland to intensify its fight against copyright pirates but the high price of legal music and videos makes it unlikely that poverty-stricken Poles will give up the illegal trade. Poland is still struggling with old-fashioned music and software piracy.

Statistically each of Poland's 40 million people cost the music and software industries some $5 last year, putting it in the top ranks of copyright offenders in eastern Europe. The problem is most visible at Warsaw's largest open-air market, an abandoned sports stadium in the east of the city, where shoppers chose from a wide range of counterfeit goods including compact discs costing as little as $2.50.

"That place is nothing but a crime scene. The problem with piracy in Poland is that the police only deal with the tip of the iceberg, while the problem runs deep into organised crime groups," said Pawel Biedziak, the national police spokesman.

Police, who have been conducting regular raids at the stadium, with the most recent netting 40,000 illegal CDs, say the only effective solution would be to close. More than 30 percent of Poles told a recent opinion poll that buying pirate CDs and illegally copying software was perfectly acceptable and half blamed piracy on manufacturers, saying the prices for legal products were too high.An average CD costs $12 to $15 in Poland, while the "stadium" price is usually some $2.50. Average wages are less than $400 a month.

Approximately 90 percent of counterfeit CDs sold in Poland come from Ukraine or Bulgaria and before they reach Warsaw they have already circumvented customs, police say. The industry estimates that Ukrainian pirate CDs sales are costing it at least $120 million a year.

"It is by far the largest supplier of the pirated CDs sold in Poland and we estimate its production potential at some 50 million counterfeit CDs annually." said ZPAV's Staszewski..."



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