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Survey reveals extent of music theft in NZ

Survey reveals extent of music theft in New Zealand

Nearly 20 per cent of respondents to a new music industry survey admit to illegally burning music CDs.

And younger people are the biggest offenders.

While the predominant reason for burning music CDs is for private use, many people also burn for friends and three per cent of those who admitted to having burned music CDs did so to sell them.

Extrapolated out over the New Zealand population aged between 15 and 44, that equates to up to 10,000 Kiwis who have at some time burned a music CD to sell for profit.

The survey was conducted by Market Pulse International on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).

RIANZ chief executive Terence O'Neill-Joyce says it reveals a deep-seated ignorance of the law of copyright.

"In the 15 to 24 age group, about three-quarters of those surveyed knew someone who burned music CDs so it is clear to us that youngsters are the key in educating people about copyright laws."

Mr O'Neill-Joyce says the law is clear that, apart from some special cases such as research, only the copyright owner can copy any copyrighted product.

The association is 12 months in to an awareness campaign titled BRN>BRNT aimed at educating people about the law and issues surrounding music CD copying.

Mr O'Neill-Joyce says the survey was conducted to establish a benchmark for the level of music copying in New Zealand.

"While we have a good idea of the level of music copying from anecdotal evidence and by monitoring blank CD sales, no one has formally surveyed the situation.

"Now we have some facts and figures to go by and the plan is to regularly monitor the campaign and piracy levels in this way."

Attitudes to burning

The survey also reveals nearly half the people interviewed aged between 15 and 24 are unaware that copying music CDs is illegal. And nearly one in five New Zealanders believe it is legal to 'burn' music or make a copy of someone else's CDs for their own personal use.

Mr O'Neill-Joyce says while the survey reveals ignorance of the law of copyright at the same time there is a growing sense of what's right and what's wrong.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed at the attitudes of New Zealanders to the rights of the people who make the music and who own the copyright.

"However, we are pleased that generally people regard burning music for sale as unacceptable and burning for a friend as being less acceptable."

Awareness of campaign messages

The survey also reveals the BRN>BRNT campaign itself has achieved a good level of awareness and awareness is highest amongst younger respondents.

Respondents also understand there are "many consequences for the industry from music CD burning" the report says.

The most common interpretation of the campaign was 'don't burn because it hurts New Zealand artists' and 'don't burn because everyone in the music industry loses'.

Industry views

The survey results are backed by anecdotal evidence from a number of music industry sources.

James Southgate from Warner Music says the increasing number of CD slicks (cover inserts) being stolen from shops is evidence of CD music copying. Warners has made two staff redundant this year Mr Southgate says, due in part to the slump in music CD sales and the effects of music piracy.

Across town at EMI, Chris Caddick reports that his company is restricting the amount of advance copies of albums it distributes for review.

"The evidence is that advance copies are being burned and we are taking measures to introduce copy control and watermarking of advance copies to identify the leaks. And of course there is a cost to this," Mr Caddick says.

Michael Glading, who is president of RIANZ and head of Sony Music in New Zealand, says people need to realise that for record companies to continue investing in local artists like they do, the CD copying plague needs to be curtailed.

"If we can't remain profitable we can't invest locally - it's that simple," he says.

Year Two

Mr O'Neill-Joyce says young people are the prime target audience for continued education as BRN>BRNT heads in to year two.

"We're very pleased the campaign is reaching them and they know what it's called and what it's about.

"Because of the huge growth in computers and Internet use, many young people have matured thinking music is free. The focus with this group is on education and that remains a big component for the second year.

"But people must also understand there are a number of commercial organisations that are burning music and selling or hiring it for a profit without one cent going to the people who created the music and who own the copyright.

"The focus here is on enforcing the law and it is these people we will be pursuing initially in the courts."


The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand is campaigning to protect the livelihoods of people in the music industry by educating the public about the copyright law in New Zealand. The campaign is titled BRN>BRNT and involves an advertising, poster, sticker and PR campaign to raise awareness of a problem that is estimated to cost the music industry $95 million a year.

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