Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Public Affairs Office (202) 707 9217
Robert Fistick, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (202) 707 9279

October 16, 1996

Seized Recording Equipment Donated to Library Service for the Blind

An effort of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the U.S. Copyright Office, both part of the Library of Congress, will result in high-speed duplicating equipment being donated to the library program in Georgia that serves blind and physically handicapped patrons.

Georgia's users of audio books are the beneficiaries of a raid on counterfeit music cassette pirates in Atlanta. The raid was part of a national operation orchestrated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and law enforcement agencies against pirates who had been breaking copyright laws to duplicate music tapes, which sell for between $2 and $5 on the illegal marketplace.

RIAA will donate five units of seized high speed tape duplicating equipment to the Georgia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 3:30 p.m. in the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education's State Board Room, 1800 Century Place, Atlanta.

The Georgia library will use the machines to reproduce recorded materials for the state's blind and handicapped readers of talking books. Each machine is capable of making 11 copies of both sides of a 60 minute tape and rewinding them in less than two minutes. The equipment, estimated to be worth $29,000, was seized in a raid by the Cobb County Sheriff's Department in October 1992 in Roswell, from a tape-counterfeiting factory that had the capacity to produce 1.8 million tapes a year, with an estimated loss of $18 million to the recording industry.

Until recently, seized supplies and equipment would have been destroyed. To prevent duplicating equipment from falling back into the hands of tape pirates, authorities smashed the $12,000 tape duplicators instead of selling them at auction, as is the case for other seized property.

RIAA explained this routine destruction in September 1995 in a briefing to the Library of Congress Copyright Office, which issues copyrights to the recording industry. Attending the briefing was Mary Levering, associate register for national copyright programs and a former chief of the Network Division of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. "I know a community that could use this equipment," she told RIAA officials. Later, Steven D'Onofrio, RIAA executive vice president and director of anti-piracy, and Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the Library of Congress program, reached an agreement, later formalized into a memorandum of understanding, for the nation's libraries for the blind to receive the confiscated duplicating equipment.

"RIAA is working to give the seized tape duplicating machines to talking book libraries across the country," said Charles Lawhorn, senior regional anti-piracy counsel for RIAA in Los Angeles, site of the first such donation earlier this year. As a result, at least 18 pieces of industrial high speed tapeduplicating equipment have been or will be soon turned over to regional libraries in California, Georgia and Texas. The total estimated value of this equipment is $108,000.

RIAA is a private, not for profit corporation whose member companies represent 90 percent of all legitimate recorded music sold in the United States. RIAA has 12 investigators and five attorneys nationwide in its anti-piracy unit. Since 1991, RIAA's efforts have resulted in 1,552 arrests and indictments and 799 guilty pleas and convictions of manufacturers and distributors of pirated sound recordings.

The Library of Congress talking book program is a free national library program of braille and recorded books and magazines administered by NLS. Full length books and magazines are produced in braille and on recorded cassette. These reading materials are distributed to a cooperating national network of 143 regional and subregional (local) libraries, where they are circulated to eligible borrowers in a readership of 776,000.

More than 22 million recorded and braille books are circulated annually to these eligible borrowers. Reading materials and playback machines are sent to borrowers and returned to libraries by postage free mail. Established by an act of Congress in 1932 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded three times: in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials and in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent the reading of standard print. In 1996, the U.S. Copyright Law was modified to grant nonprofit agencies automatic permission to reproduce nondramatic literary works in special formats.

Contacts in Atlanta: Helen Mathis, Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, (404) 679-1612; Linda Koldenhoven, Georgia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, (404) 756 4619; Alexandra Walsh, RIAA Media Relations Director, (202) 775 0101

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PR 96-142
ISSN 0731-3527

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