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Pirated Goods Pose Huge Problems In Mexico
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Pirated Goods Pose Huge Problems In Mexico

Latin America

Pirated Goods Pose Huge Problems In Mexico

Pirated Goods Pose Huge Problems In Mexico
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/123769365/123781638" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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A street vendor sells music CDs in Mexico City i

A street vendor sells music CDs in Mexico City. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
A street vendor sells music CDs in Mexico City

A street vendor sells music CDs in Mexico City.

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

Across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes museum in downtown Mexico city, men with file folders offer pirated copies of all of the most popular computer software.

In the market of Tepito, knockoffs of Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and other major American clothing brands are available for a fraction of the price of the real thing.

On the subway, vendors burst into the cars blaring music from boom boxes that they've specially fitted into backpacks. Each CD they offer for sale is 10 pesos, or roughly 75 U.S. cents. Vendors offer pirated CDs of heavy metal, flamenco, ranchera and other types of music.

Mexico's multibillion-dollar pirated goods market is worth more than its oil exports and illicit narcotics trade combined.

Throughout the country, pirated goods dominate the marketplace, cutting into government tax revenues, discouraging foreign investment and funding organized crime.

Miguel Angel Teyo, 32, hawks music CDs on Mexico City's subway system. He says it is a good job.

"It's really easy," Teyo says. "Because another job you're outside doing construction or something else, it's really heavy or it's little money."

Pirated DVD copies of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ sold for 30 Mexican pesos each, less than $ i

Pirated DVD copies of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ sold for 30 Mexican pesos each, less than $3, in Mexico City in 2004. The illegal copies were available weeks before the movie premiered in theaters in Mexico. Jorge Uzon/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Jorge Uzon/AFP/Getty Images
Pirated DVD copies of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ sold for 30 Mexican pesos each, less than $

Pirated DVD copies of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ sold for 30 Mexican pesos each, less than $3, in Mexico City in 2004. The illegal copies were available weeks before the movie premiered in theaters in Mexico.

Jorge Uzon/AFP/Getty Images

Teyo says the more CDs he sells, the more money he makes. He declines to say who provides him with the CDs.

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors in Mexico say the nation's vicious drug cartels dominate the production of black market CDs and DVD movies.

A study from the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, a group representing U.S. business interests, says Mexicans each year buy $75 billion worth of knockoff DVDs, computer software, designer clothing, food, whiskey and other items.

Other studies place the figure of Mexico's black market sales at $20 billion to $50 billion. Mexico's largest legal source of revenue is petroleum, which generates revenues of $25 billion a year.

The survey also found that most Mexicans knowingly and willingly purchase knockoff products: 88 percent of Mexicans, according to the report, bought at least one pirated item in the past year, and 12 percent of those surveyed said they buy pirata at least once a week.

The Chamber's report assumes that a pirated DVD that sells on the street in Guadalajara for $1 is worth its actual retail price of $18 to $20.

"We are dealing with a great problem," says Mike Margain, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce's intellectual property committee.

Whatever the exact number, it totals in the billions of dollars and affects the country by reducing the government's badly needed tax revenues and providing profits to organized crime, Margain says.

"It's an economic and also social problem," he says.

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