Brazil is the world's fourth largest market for counterfeit merchandise, trailing
only China, which is first, and Russia and Paraguay, second and third, respectively,
in the ranking.
This illegal commerce
causes Brazil annual losses of more than US$ 10 billion, according to the
National Union of Federal Revenue Agents (Sindireceita).
For Rio de Janeiro's House
Representative Júlio Lopes, Vice-President of the Congressional Investigatory
Commission (CPI) that is looking into piracy in Brazil, to combat this type
of crime it is not enough to pass tougher laws; it is also necessary to raise
the consciousness of the population.
"It is very important
for the National Congress to update the laws, but this won't make any difference,
if a national culture opposed to this practice does not exist," the Deputy
argued, addressing the 24th National Seminar on Intellectual Property, which
ended August 18, in Brasília.
Besides the economic impact
of piracy, the Deputy pointed out that the industry of counterfeit products
hinders the creation of at least 1.5 million formal jobs.
The lawmaker presented
those attending the event with the report prepared by the CPI on Piracy, fruit
of more than a year's work. The Commission accused over 100 individuals and
requested the indictment of 55 counterfeiters.
As well as suggesting
changes in the Intellectual Property and Penal Codes, the CPI proposed the
creation of the National Council for the Defense of Intellectual Property.
According to the President
of the Sindireceita, Reynaldo Puggi, the entry of US$ 10 billion worth of
black market and counterfeit products each year sustains the illegal trade
Cigarettes top the list
of illegal merchandise. Around 32 percent of the cigarettes sold in Brazil
are contraband or counterfeit. The fiscal harm caused by illegal cigarette
sales alone amounts to US$ 1.2 billion annually.
Puggi emphasized that,
to reverse this situation, three factors must be combined: more rigorous legislation,
organs equipped to combat piracy, and consciousness-raising in the population,
to reduce the consumption of these items.
Fifty three Brazilian
and foreign specialists took part in the seminar, where they discussed questions
related to the theme "Intellectual Property: Economic Growth with Social
Responsibility." The event was sponsored by the Brazilian Intellectual
The governments and police
forces of the 181 countries that are members of the Interpol should do more
to integrate their efforts, making it possible to combat global piracy more
effectively. This is the opinion of Interpol representative John Newton, one
of the seminar's participants.
He pointed out that this
kind of activity is responsible for 5-7 percent of world trade and is frequently
the source of funds for terrorism. "We must foster trustful relations
among countries," Newton argued.
Earlier this month, Brazil's
Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomas Bastos, said that the creation of
the National Intellectual Property Council will be an important instrument
in the fight against piracy.
The council is one of
the suggestions in the Congressional Inquiry Commission (CPI) on piracy. The
commission's report is 300 pages long, summing up a year of investigations
which resulted in indictments of 100 people.
The commission report
also suggests changes in various of the country legal codes (Intellectual
Property, Industrial Property and Penal). The commission strongly calls for
stiffer penalties for the production or sale of pirated goods.
According to Minister
Bastos, piracy is economically as damaging as, and related to, money laundering.
"Piracy is a case of tax evasion that usually involves some form of money
laundering which is a case of legalizing money obtained illegally," said
Bastos said the government
would use the CPI report as a tool to make the country safer.
It was announced in July
that the Brazilian government is investing in new anti-piracy techniques.
According to official reports, the Ministry of Science and Technology will
have a budget of US$ 162,000 (500,000 reais) to develop new technologies to
impede and make it difficult to make illegal reproductions of sound and image,
such as CDs and DVDs.
As stated by Marcelo Lopes,
the coordinator of the Technology Network at the ministry, the situation is
worrisome because it is estimated that in Brazil 55 percent of the sound and
image market is pirate.
There are 120,000 jobs
in the Brazilian audiovisual sector which pays some US$64.4 million (R$200
million) in taxes annually.
However, it is estimated
that losses due to piracy reach almost double thataround US$ 119.5 million
, not to mention the loss of 17,000 jobs. Out of every three CDs or DVDs sold
in Brazil last year, one was pirate.
The number of counterfeit
remedies, however, seems to be diminishing in Brazil. In 1998 the National
Sanitary Inspection Agency (Anvisa) received 172 notifications. Since 1999
only seven have been registered. The majority, contraband medications.
To control deviation of
drugs, some measures were adopted. Among them, campaigns in the distributors
and inspection in the pharmaceutical industries.
All boxes of medications
should also be sealed and carry a symbol with a metallic covering, which,
when rubbed, reveals the word "quality" and the manufacturer's trademark.
Sales slipsfor transactions
between industries and distributors and distributors and pharmaciesmust
bear the lot number of the medications.
According to Anvisa, stolen
shipments of remedies can be a motive for falsification. In these cases, the
Agency alerts all the state Sanitary Inspection units, informing the number
of the lot that was stolen.
When a medication from
this lot is discovered, it is removed from the pharmacy's shelves.
works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian
government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.