Music Industry Groups: Counterfeit CDs Sales Hurting Artists and Labels

The American Association of Independent Music and the Recording Industry Association of America have warned members that online sales of recent CD releases have been usurped by near-exact counterfeit copies made by Chinese manufacturers.

If you’re hopping on Amazon to buy a CD anytime soon, buyer beware.

Last month, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) put out a warning to its members: Apparently, counterfeiters have been creating near-exact copies of recent releases and selling the via the online retailer, with the goal of taking sales away from the artist and the label.

“The pirates are pricing slightly below the legitimate product and getting the ‘buy box’ on Amazon,” A2IM wrote in an alert posted on its website. “This enables them to take over sales, leaving the real thing on Amazon’s shelves and depriving artists, writers, labels, publishers, and distributors of any revenue from those sales.”

The issue is also under close scrutiny by other music industry groups, including the Recording Industry Association of America, which is currently conducting a study to highlight the severity of the problem.

In comments to the Wall Street Journal, RIAA Executive Vice President Brad Buckles, who oversees the association’s antipiracy efforts, said that Amazon had pledged to help curb counterfeit sales.

“Amazon should not be playing host to illegal items that would normally be found on the black market,” Buckles told the Journal.

In a letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative and acquired by TorrentFreak [PDF], RIAA noted that Chinese counterfeits in particular have become increasingly sophisticated:

The Chinese counterfeit CDs and packaging are very high quality. The artwork, packaging, and inserts are carefully copied in fine detail. The untrained eye would not even be able to identifying them as counterfeits. We have been able to identify the source plant using forensic matching of discs to known plants in China. We have also been able to identify them as counterfeit based on very slight deviations in commercial markings on the discs themselves.

(Russian counterfeits are also common, but easier to recognize as fakes.)

The issue of counterfeit goods has become more significant in recent months. Apple, for example, recently pointed out that many “genuine” Apple products listed on Amazon are actually counterfeit—particularly chargers and cables.

And other industries, such as fashion, have criticized online retailer Alibaba for selling counterfeit products. Last month, a dozen trade groups called for the U.S. Trade Representative to put Alibaba back on a list of global marketplaces that are known to sell counterfeit or pirated goods.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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