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Governor Schwarzenegger Signs New California Law Expanding Penalties For Selling Counterfeit CDs Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 February 2006
Under a new measure signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the threshold for a felony charge will be reduced to 100 counterfeit units, the same threshold in current law for illegitimate movie copies.
“Every time a pirated CD is sold at a flea market, street-side table or retail outlet, the works of many talented artists, record label employees, writers, technicians, designers and producers are stolen,” said Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA. “This law ensures that thieves threatening the livelihoods of those in the music industry will face much greater risk of being prosecuted and appropriately punished. This law will make thieves think twice about peddling stolen music.”

“Retailers who operate legally shouldn't have to deal with unfair competition from thieves,” said Jim Donio, President of NARM. “Independent stores like Dimple Records and major chains like Tower Records—both headquartered in Sacramento—and all the other companies who run businesses or have stores in the state of California welcome this important anti-piracy legislation.”

Until now, the felony requirement for counterfeit CDs has been 1,000 units, allowing music thieves to maintain ample stock without risk of a felony. Lowering the threshold to 100 units will make it much more difficult for these individuals to balance their need for illegal inventory with the risk of being caught and facing serious consequences.

AB 64 – co-sponsored by Assemblymember Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga) and Senator Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) – was approved overwhelmingly in both houses of the California legislature (Senate 29-2, Assembly 74-0) before moving to the governor’s desk for signature.

“It is critical that this activity be treated for what it is – dealing in stolen property and profiting from it. And that must come with serious consequences,” Bainwol added. “We applaud Governor Schwarzenegger, the members of the California Legislature and in particular Assemblymember Cohn for their work to provide the music industry with this much-needed enhancement to the state’s physical piracy laws."

In 2005, more than one million pirated music CDs were seized in California, and more than 1,200 arrests were made related to those seizures. More than 85 percent of all pirate product seized in California is of the Latin genre.

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