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With Video, Music Piracy on the Rise, NBC Chief Calls for Tougher Penalties

Despite the rise in piracy in the United States, overseas pirates, chiefly in China and Russia, worry the U.S. entertainment industry more. Of the 13 billion U.S.-recorded songs estimated to have been illegally downloaded in 2005, 9 billion were downloaded overseas, according to figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the global trade group for the music industry.

The past month has seen a rash of crackdowns on piracy, all spurred by industry investigations that prompted local authorities to raid and prosecute alleged pirates. Police in Taiwan raided a video rental shop that was hiding an illegal DVD-burning operation, Taiwanese authorities shut down two pirate peer-to-peer Web sites and arrested one site's owner, a man was sentenced to six months in jail in Australia for selling pirated DVDs of movies such as "The Da Vinci Code," Malaysian authorities shut down an unlicensed DVD factory and Turkish police shuttered an illegal CD-burning plant in Istanbul as well.

"If you ask if piracy of movies is worse today, I'd say with movies, we're holding our own," Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in an interview yesterday. "It's more serious now with TV [programs] than it used to be."

To help combat piracy and make its programming more readily available on the Internet, NBC Universal and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. plan to launch a Web site later this month called, which will distribute NBC and Fox programming for free on advertising-supported sites such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo and MySpace.

In his speech, Zucker, 42, will tout a study to be released today on the estimated economic impact of intellectual property piracy to the U.S. economy, prepared by the Institute for Policy Innovation, a Texas research group run by former representative Dick Armey (R-Tex.).

The study estimates that intellectual property piracy -- theft of music, movies, video games and software -- costs the U.S. economy $58 billion per year and s 350,000 lost jobs in the entertainment industry and its supplying industries.

For the movie industry, the study used loss estimates from a 2005 study commissioned by the studios. For the music, software and video game industries, the study crafted current loss estimates using proprietary industry data, company filings at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, sales data and academic studies.

The research group's study does not assume a one-for-one relationship between pirated and sold goods. This means the study does not assume that each purchased pirated DVD or CD would have been purchased for full retail price if piracy were non-existent, said study author Stephen Siwek.

Staff writer John Maynard contributed to this report.

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