Record industry brings US$2.8 million criminal action against major Philippines group for music piracy
22 November 2001 - The major international record companies Sony Music, EMI, BMG, WEA and Universal, and the independent Sanctuary Records, today filed a criminal complaint with the Philippines Department of Justice against senior executives and employees in the publicly-listed media and electronics group Solid Group Inc (SGI).
Companies within the SGI group are alleged to have manufactured and distributed counterfeit and pirate CDs by major international artists including The Beatles, Celine Dion, Will Smith, Bryan Adams, Abba and Mariah Carey. The complainants allege that the respondents, comprising the Chairman and President and 8 executives and employees of the group, conspired to commit 429,966 acts of copyright infringement.
SGI is the holding company for subsidiaries engaged in the manufacture and distribution of electronic products, audio, video and home electrical products.
The lawsuit follows a lengthy anti-piracy investigation by IFPI, the record industry's trade association. Solid Laguna Corporation, a subsidiary of SGI that operates a CD replicating plant, was raided by the Philippine National Police on 19 September 2000. CD manufacturing stampers, compact discs and two replicating machines worth about US$2.5 million were seized, along with business records.
SGI Chairman and President Elena S. Lim and the other respondents are charged with copyright violations under the Philippines Intellectual Property Code. The other respondents are executives and employees that worked for companies within SGI, namely Solid Video Corporation, Solid Corporation and Destiny Cable Inc.
CD piracy is a massive international criminal business valued at more than US$4 billion per year. The Philippines has been a major manufacturing centre for CD piracy in recent years, damaging both regional music markets and the country's own US$37 million local music industry. Piracy in the Philippines is estimated to account for more than 30% of all music sales.
The maximum penalty as specified in the Philippines Intellectual Property Code is imprisonment for up to three years plus fines up to PhP150,000, (US$2,800) for each copyright violation. In this complaint, the record companies have indicated that they suffered damage in excess of PhP147 million, (US$2.8 million) excluding legal costs and fees, and have reserved the right to file additional criminal, civil and administrative cases in relation to the activities of the respondents and companies within SGI.
Geoff Taylor, Deputy General Counsel and Director of Litigation of IFPI, says: "Our member record companies are absolutely determined to pursue this case to the fullest extent possible under the law and we anticipate further copyright infringement claims arising from the same raid."
IFPI is the trade organisation of the international record industry. It has affiliated National Groups in 46 countries and its membership comprises more than 1,400 record companies worldwide.
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