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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Record Labels Seek 'Net' Profits

GENEVA -- The world's major record companies, battling to preserve their revenues against the hi-tech information age revolution, have called for a new treaty to protect copyrights on the Internet.

Industry officials urged the adoption of new legislation at a United Nations conference on intellectual property and copyrights that started in Geneva on Monday, but also admitted their impotence in controlling the tide of new digital technology.

Philippe Kern, a senior official of the Dutch record company PolyGram, said Thursday that rules had to be rewritten because new technologies now allowed consumers of popular music to pull audio files off the Internet.

He said record producers risked losing billions of dollars in intellectual property rights and sales because of reproduction on the Internet with digital technology as well as the emergence of a new electronic marketplace.

"We're shifting towards a marketplace where you will be able to access music not only in retail but also through your computer or television screens," he told a new conference.

"People have access to works with no reward to copyright holders. This is unacceptable," he said.

The gathering, in the form of a Diplomatic Conference at the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, began Monday and is due to last three weeks.

Its agenda includes completion and adoption of three new treaties -- on protection of literary and artistic works, on the rights of performers and the producers of phonograms, and intellectual property rights concerning data bases.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which groups 1,100 record producers in more than 70 countries, says the global music business, worth $40 billion in retail sales in 1995, could lose $2 billion in the coming years in Europe alone due to electronic delivery of music.