Pirates on Parade Defy Rules; Pakistan Is Ranked as One of the World's Largest Producers of Pirated CDs. Amir Zia Reports

Article excerpt

A shabbily dressed hawker squabbles with a teenager over the price of a latest Microsoft Windows programme in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi. The deal is closed at 40 rupees - about pounds 2.40.

Saad Hasan has just bought a pirated copy of Windows XP, which is more readily available in Pakistan than the licensed product which retails at 5,800 rupees (pounds 354).

'Who can afford the original?' he said as he ran his fingers over row after row of CDs piled on the rickety push cart. 'It would have cost me thousands of rupees. I can't afford that.'

Another cart is stacked with Hollywood blockbusters and Indian 'Bollywood' movies, all selling at less than a dollar.

The Washington-based International Intellectual Property Alliance ranked Pakistan as one of the world's largest producers of pirated CDs and other optical discs for export in both 2001 and 2002. It said piracy of movies and music cost the industry around pounds 4.27 million in Pakistan in 2002.

Now it wants the country placed on the priority watchlist and has urged withdrawal of trade privileges on its exports to the United States if the government fails to tackle the problem.

Pakistan says it has upgraded legislation to comply with international agreements. The Commerce Ministry says it plans to set up an Intellectual Property Rights Organisation to improve enforcement.

'Raids are conducted against violators and offenders are also being prosecuted,' it said in a written response to queries. …