08 -14 November 2000

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Exotique confident seized CDs will be proved genuine

By Nadine Brincat

The raids at Exotique music stores last week have not damaged pre-Christmas sales and with customers showing absolute faith in the authenticity of the shops’ CDs, it may even improve business, a company spokesman said.

The piracy saga took a new twist last week, when the Exotique music stores were raided by police, who took away over 800 CDs for inspection. The raid came hot on the heels of a massive seizure of fake CDs at warehouses in October.

The Exotique raids led to Joseph Borg, an executive of Visual and Sound Communications, which operates the chain, questioning whether someone involved in the piracy racket was trying to intimidate them.

Just before the Exotique raid, police seized around 100,000 Compact Discs, suspected to be pirate copies, and state-of-the-art technological recording equipment following raids at different warehouses and a private residence.

Stressing that the CDs confiscated from their shops were authentic, Ms Grace Borg, Executive director of Visual and Sound Communications Limited, said that all the products seized in the raid were over four years old, and were selling at an exceptionally low price of around Lm2 for a pre-Christmas November sale.

"We never did, we are not, and we will not trade in pirates," she said. "The client is the most important factor to us."

Mr Borg said that the company had been victimised by someone intending to scare them.

"Our first reaction was to suspect an implant of pirate CDs at our stores, in order to frame us, " he said. "The CDs are currently in the hands of the authorities and we have no doubt that of their legitimacy."

He told The Business Times that the company would not risk what has been hard earned in 20 years, including exclusive distribution rights in Malta for major companies such as Disney and Universal.

Meanwhile, Ms Borg said that although the company intended to leave everything in the authorities’ hands, it had been necessary to let the shops’ customers hear their side of the story.

"People know what they always brought from us, people believe in us – in fact we were very pleased to receive support calls from our customers," she said.

When asked whether the raids had caused any changes in the company’s sales, Ms Borg said that this had not occurred, adding that the opposite could occur.

"It could work out as good PR for us," she said.

Ms Borg added that the company had not yet decided what legal action would be taken against local media for "reporting suspicions as facts".

"Two agencies have apologised, and corrected their reports," she said.

She explained that the company had no intention of hindering investigations and said she understood that if the police received a report, they should act on it.

Ms Borg expressed her hope that police investigations will keep at a good pace, while shrugging off any idea that Exotique was caught up in the piracy scam.

"Piracy was always against our principles, even before the 1992 legal amendments, when 99 per cent of the products were pirates," she said. "We never dealt with illegitimate products, why would we do so now when we are a thriving business?"

•••• Pirate CD’s are blatantly sold at the Valletta Market

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt