Mexican marketers to fight piracy

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MEXICO CITY -- Marketers of all stripes in Mexico hope to form an anti-piracy trade group in early 1998 to step up the fight against pirated and counterfeit goods.

Clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss and software giant Microsoft are spear-heading the effort to create the Alliance Against Piracy , which is expected to attract companies from many different industries.

Companies reportedly interested in joining are Reebok, Nike, Gillette, and Mexico's largest video distributor and retailer, Videovisa, along with the Mexican recorded music association and perfume makers.

By some estimates, 80% of all software in Mexico is pirated or illegally copied, while video companies calculate their piracy rate is at least 50%. When it comes to music tapes, estimates go as high as 90%.

The anti-piracy alliance is still hammering out membership details and requirements, but will work with the authorities to crack down on piracy. Piracy has been prosecuted on the basis of intellectual property violations, but other groups like the Motion Picture Association have been trying to convince the government of its seriousness and the links with organized crime.

Just last week, the federal attorney general's office held a press event as agents destroyed thousands of illegal tapes seized during raids. Yet legions of street sellers and many markets still provide a well-established sales system for counterfeit, pirated or stolen goods.

The alliance may also launch an advertising campaign to raise public awareness, as the biggest hurdle to fighting piracy may be public ignorance - or indifference.

Just as the summer blockbuster "The Lost World" was hitting the big screen in Mexico, a major Mexico City daily newspaper published an article in its entertainment section about how video copies could already be purchased - in the city's biggest market for illegal goods.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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