Slovak bands lose out to internet pirates and CD copying

In Slovakia the illegal copying of movies and music has many artists up in arms. Digital downloads over the internet and the easy copying of DVDs and CDs is cutting into a main revenue flow for many bands. Christopher George has been talking to the bands, and those who pirate their music.

You can look at it from many directions but the real question stands - is copying compact discs piracy? I asked a few people on the streets of Bratislava.

"Original CDs cost me and everyone a lot of money.

"As far as I know we are allowed to make one copy".

"Yeah well I do make copies but I do not know if it's piracy because most of the things I copy are things you can’t really buy here that easily. And I do not pass these things around".

With out feeling guilty we make copies or we download our favourite albums and we share it amongst our friends and we do not bother with the fact that it is stealing or theft. But yxo from the band HEXO has a different view.

"When a band produces something new and people just download it from the internet for free, actually we put in a lot of money and time to producing this material which people just download from the internet. I know people do not have money to buy original c.d.'s but they can always find money to drink beer in pubs. People think that originals cost too much. I wish it was like it is in the west where people value original c.d.'s, when people buy them so they can read the inlay cover and look at the photo's. A c.d. is not just the music; it’s a piece of art".

So is the internet an enemy of Slovak groups ? DJ victor hazard from the band AMO explains.

"It’s a big minus for us, because as soon as a new song is released the very same day it is on the internet, it is stopping us from making any money; we are losing a great deal".

Music piracy has two sides. On one hand it is enriching someones life at the expense of the artist and the record company and on the other hand touches on the subject of domestic piracy. Roman Mraz from the international federation phonographic industry:

"With commercial profit we can divide piracy into internet piracy and piracy operated via public distribution. discotheque's, public production, sale of pirate c.d.'s, marketplaces, random door to door salesmen, domestic piracy such as burning a c.d. so you can keep your 'master' c.d. in good condition or even that mix-tape kind of c.d. with your favourite music, friends burning for friends without money changing hands or lending and borrowing its all the same, piracy! But its impossible to track this kind of crime, when one person downloads a track and sends it to a friend this is domestic piracy. This is the most widespread nowadays".

What is the border between legal burning and illegal burning?

"People have a right to make a copy of a work of art, it must serve only for domestic needs, but the cant spread it around. Downloading from the internet, the person who downloads from a particular website an album or track they are not actually breaking the law, the person who placed it on the internet initially broke the law".

What is the solution to this ever lasting circle?

"We must talk about this, about how copying is stealing or robbery, their was a campaign, copying kills the music, the record companies are bringing down the price of music so it is easier for people for people to afford. We are working on legislation which will cover 'authors rights', also criminal law. The compliance of International conventions, European directives these are the solutions".