Even today, when most music is purchased and listened to digitally, there are still many people that take their music in hard copy, on an old-fashioned compact disc, or CD. These small metal discs, laser-etched with beautiful sounds for the customers’ listening pleasure, go for about $10 each. When created, and sold by legitimate companies, part of the sales of these CDs go to the artists as royalties.
Unfortunately, more and more of these CDs are counterfeits, making money for the pirates, leaving the legitimate artists and their music producers, high and dry. This problem has reared its ugly head even more severely recently as the pirates brazenly flood such well-respected retail outlets as Amazon.com Inc and other similar online sellers. The counterfeits sell for almost the same price as their authentic cousins, and are getting more and more difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
One major record company said that there are a few European markets where sales of CDs were unchanged, while its Amazon account sales were down by a steep 17 percent, or even more, because of the counterfeits.
Earlier this year the American Association of Independent Music told its independent-label members about the problem of counterfeit CDs. The AAIM said that counterfeiters from China have been selling illegal CDs on Amazon for almost the same price as the legit CDs, and within weeks of when a new album is first released, sometimes even getting the fakes into Amazon’s “buy box.”
Counterfeiters have been pirating CDs for decades, but the problem has gotten much worse as more CD buyers order their music online. In the past the fakes were mostly sold on street corners, were impossibly cheap, and used photocopied covers to declare their in-authenticity to all but the most unaware consumers.