Massive haul of blank CDs in Mexico

February 2005

Record Labels

Almost 16 million blank CD-Recordable discs – a worldwide record – have been seized in raids in Mexico. The bulk of the discs are believed to have been destined for the country’s piracy-ridden markets. The raids mark recent stepped-up enforcement efforts by the Mexican authorities to try and stem the overwhelming pirate music trade in the country. Customs agents, with the support of federal investigation agents initially seized ten million blank CD-Rs in raids on two warehouse facilities in the municipalities of Morales and Tacubaya within metropolitan Mexico City. The raids followed eight months of intensive investigation. At the same time, customs authorities, assisted by federal fiscal agents, stopped and appropriated two shipments containing 5.8 million additional blank CD-Rs at the ports of Ciudad Juarez and Manzanillo. The shipments were apparently entering the country without proper documentation. Mexican authorities have said that all the seized products were either owned by or imported by a company which is a major supplier of blank CD-Rs to markets notorious for being centres of piracy such as Tepito in Mexico City. The seizures indicate the increasing enforcement actions by the Mexican authorities to try and stem the pirate trade which has devastated Mexico’s legitimate market. The raids follow a new ‘Mexico Plus’ initiative, aimed at transforming the illegitimate market stalls selling pirate product by offering them budget-priced legal CDs. At the same time, periodic raids aim to dissuade established pirate stalls from distributing illicit product and seek conversion. Mexico was, in 2000, the eighth-largest music market in the world, but in 2003 the country dropped out of the world’s top ten. The explosion of CD-R piracy in the country over the past few years has seen the legitimate market shrink from US$665 in value in 2000 to US$346.5 million in 2003 – a fall of 48%. In the same period the industry laid off nearly half of its workforce and new releases fell by around 50% – particularly devastating to the country’s domestic music artists and producers. Mexico is also one of the top ten priority countries named in IFPI’s 2004 Commercial Piracy Report. However, Mexican authorities have recently begun more systematic enforcement against the pirate trade, including the handing down of severe jail sentences for copyright pirates.


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