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Cablegate: Anti-Piracy Efforts in Casablanca Do Not Deter

VZCZCXRO2311
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHCL #0062/01 0941358
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031358Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8023
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0363
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 2338
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0645
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 8273

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CASABLANCA 000062

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG AND NEA/PI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN KDEM MO
SUBJECT: ANTI-PIRACY EFFORTS IN CASABLANCA DO NOT DETER
VENDORS

REF: 06 CASABLANCA 883

1. (SBU) Summary: Following a series of seizures of pirated
CDs and DVDs, Moroccan authorities destroyed some 80,000
discs on March 27 in Casablanca. Undeterred, illegal CD and
DVD vendors remain in business, buoyed by strong demand and
the knowledge that periodic raids are annoying, but not
ruinous. Despite limited effectiveness, Moroccan authorities
plan to continue seizures. For their part, local artists are
considering new ways to package and distribute their work to
circumvent pirates and retain profits. While the government
has taken steps to curb piracy, more needs to be done to
enforce laws, disable pirating networks and raise public
awareness about IP and copyright laws. End Summary.

-----------------------------------------
CD/DVD DESTRUCTION DOES NOT DETER VENDORS
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) Moroccan authorities, in concert with the Moroccan
Copyright Office (BMDA) and the Moroccan Cinematic Center
(CCM), destroyed about 80,000 pirated CDs and DVDs on March
27 in Casablanca. The destruction followed a series of
seizures around the city that included music CDs, software,
and foreign and Moroccan films from markets around
Casablanca.

3. (U) The seizure and destruction of thousands of pirated
CDs and DVDs has not deterred vendors from selling pirated
goods. First, seizures are not a new phenomenon. In
Casablanca,s renowned Derb Ghallef, a black market maze of
over 1000 shops selling everything from iPods to designer
clothing to furniture, a CD and DVD vendor named Rachid
estimated that there had been five raids in the past year. A
vendor named Youssef thought there had been three. Whatever
the number, both viewed periodic seizures as part of doing
business. With a smile and a shrug, Rachid told econoff that
authorities had confiscated his entire stock in mid-March,
along with the television and DVD player he used to demo his
goods. In less than a week, however, his shop was up and
running again, the shelves full of music and movies and a new
TV in place. Youssef had fared better, losing only 1000 of
his DVDs. Knowing the risk of raids, he never displays all
his stock. "Raids have been happening since we sold VHS
tapes," he said, indicating that they are more a nuisance
than a threat.

4. (U) The strong demand for pirated material also keeps
vendors in business. With no stores selling legitimate CDs
and DVDs, consumers rely on local vendors to supply pirated
versions. Furthermore, the price of counterfeit CDs and DVDs
has fallen dramatically in the past five years, from 20 MAD
to 10, making them affordable to a large swath of people.
Given the lack of legitimate CDs and DVDs and the plethora of
cheap pirated versions, consumers from every social stratum
buy them ) either in Derb Ghallef, which attracts a diverse
clientele, or at other locales around Casablanca, including
shops in the upscale Maarif neighborhood or in plain sight on
the sidewalks in front of big-name stores such as Zara. In
the face of prevalent supply and high demand, few seem to
consider or care that their actions are illegal and infringe
on intellectual property rights.

----------------------------------
IF SEIZURES DON,T WORK, WHAT WILL?
----------------------------------

5. (U) Despite the fact that vendors of pirated CDs and DVDs
seem to view seizures as merely a job hazard, Moroccan
authorities plan to continue such operations. Abderrahim
Bouamri, CCM,s chief of control, declared that the recent
round of seizures and destruction "will be generalized to all
Moroccan cities." BMDA,s Director, Abdallah Ouadrhiri,
commented that the operation was part of a global strategy to
save cultural creativity and honor Morocco,s commitment to
copyright protection. According to statistics reported in
daily French-language newspaper L,Economiste, authorities
seized 0.9 million discs in 2005, 1.6 million in 2006 and 2.7
million in 2007, indicating that anti-piracy efforts have
increased, at least when it comes to destroying pirated
goods.
Given that an estimated 36 million CDs and DVDs enter the
informal market each year, however, the destruction of a few
million is just a drop in the bucket.


CASABLANCA 00000062 002 OF 002


6. (U) Given the enormity of the piracy problem, artists are
creating their own ways to protect their work. The
Casablancan singer "Barry," for example, distributed his 2006
album Sleeping System in an issue of the weekly magazine
Telquel. Casablanca-based music group Darga released its
recent album Stop Baraka in two versions: premium for 40 MAD
and economic for 13 DH. The packaging between the two
differs, but the content is the same and both bear the BMDA
mark. In addition, the album cover is printed on all CDs to
distinguish them from pirated copies. The group also is
taking a new approach to distribution, selling premium CDs at
restaurants, bars, cafes and bookstores in five cities around
Morocco. The hope is that initiatives such as these will
curb the loss of profits to artists and combat pirating by
cutting pirates out of the loop.

7. (U) The fact that artists feel compelled to take such
measures suggests that the government could do more to stop
piracy at its source. Film distributor Najib Benkirane told
French-language newspaper La Nouvelle Tribune that "Morocco
is one of the most protected countries against piracy. We
just have to apply the law." Similarly, Morocco,s
Association for the Fight Against Piracy has noted that
recent laws have expanded anti-piracy measures, and that the
Minister of Interior has pledged to create an anti-piracy
division. Increased government involvement and enforcement
of the law would help nip Morocco,s piracy problem in the
bud.

8. (SBU) Comment: While the government has made efforts to
curb piracy from a Casablanca perspective, including
beefed-up laws, seizures, arrests and awareness campaigns,
more needs to be done. In addition to disabling pirates and
their networks and creating alternative job opportunities,
authorities must also redouble their efforts to educate the
public about the importance of respecting intellectual
property and copyright laws. End Comment.
GREENE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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