By JANE WARDELL, AP Business Writer
Business leaders representing industries ranging from pharmaceutical
to software agreed at a meeting here Tuesday to form a coalition to
lobby governments around the world to step up the fight against
international piracy and counterfeiting.
Executives including Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steven
Ballmer, EMI Group PLC Chairman Eric Nicoli and NBC Universal Chief
Executive Officer Bob Wright said many governments had not done enough
to legislate against -- or enforce existing legislation against -- the
theft of intellectual property. NBC Universal is , a unit of General
"We need an adequate legal framework and enforcement capacity," said
Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou after the meeting. "We
are very far from that even in the U.S., and Europe is quite worse."
Nicoli warned governments that the companies forming the coalition
under the banner "Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy"
were worth around $1,000 billion, with a work force of 1 million and
served more than a billion people.
"These aren't statistics, we respectfully suggest, that governments
can afford to ignore," he said.
Nicoli declined to name countries that were dragging their heels on
the fight against piracy, but said that the coalition would draw up a
series of indices and publish them within the year.
He said the executives had decided to tackle the problem in the same
way the pirates operate, by forming a coalition across industries and
Nicoli on Tuesday dismissed suggestions by Apple Computer Inc. that a
single price for songs sold over the Internet would help prevent
piracy in the music industry.
"I'm not persuaded by the argument that a single price deters piracy,"
Nicoli said at a news conference in London to promote a new coalition
of countries involved.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs last month called music companies
greedy for seeking higher prices for music downloaded from the
Internet, saying such moves would increase piracy.
While the music industry has so far borne the brunt of copyright
theft, with its easily reproducible and distributable products, the
executives pointed out that almost every other industry is vulnerable.
Ballmer told the conference that the software industry is losing up to
$32 billion annually to piracy. In the pharmaceuticals sector, up to
10 percent of products worldwide are counterfeit, rising to as much as
50 percent to 60 percent in the developing world.
"Nobody is immune," said Wright. "There are elements that are very bad
and the reputations of countries and citizens are at stake."
Nicoli said there would be no "overnight success" in tackling piracy
and counterfeiting but pointed to improvements in the music industry,
which has waged a campaign against digital piracy over the past few
years. The multi-pronged approach by the music industry has included a
public education campaign and a series of lawsuits against individual
file-sharers around the world.
"We are seeing progress and we are at least containing piracy," Nicoli
said of the music industry.
The executives agreed to combine their current efforts to fight piracy
and create the first global cross-sector stock-take of the size of the
problem. They will also lobby other businesses to join the coalition.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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