20 | OCT | 2019
4 in every 10 books in Mexico are counterfeit
From 2016 to 2016, only 37,385 books were seized, according to the Generate Directorate of Control and Record of Secured Goods - Photo: Ariel Ojeda/EL UNIVERSAL

4 in every 10 books in Mexico are counterfeit

Mexico City
Andrés M. Estrada
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Between January 2007 and November 2018, the PGR and the PF seized a total of 672,207 counterfeit books
Between January 2007 and November 2018, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, now Attorney General of the Republic, or FGR) and the Federal Police (PF) seized a total of 672,207 counterfeit books, according to data obtained through the government transparency portal. During this period, the PF also seized 164 tonnes of books.

However, in the past three years, the fight against book piracy has not been a priority for Mexican law enforcement agencies. In 2007, the PGR confiscated 267,754 counterfeit books; none in 2008; 2,432 in 2009; 14,198 in 2010; 5,129 in 2011; 13,575 in 2012; 4,740 in 2013; 29,928 in 2014, and 51,046 in 2015, for a total of 388,802.

From 2016 to 2018, only 37,385 books were seized, according to the Generate Directorate of Control and Record of Secured Goods.

By comparison, the PF seized 172,455 counterfeit books during the same period. From 2011 to 2016, no books were seized, whereas in 2017, the Federal Police only confiscated 10,499 books and none in 2018.

Encouraging piracy

“We have let our guard down in the past three years. Our efforts were focused on fighting organized crime. […] On the other hand, we should raise awareness on the damage counterfeit books represent for the publishing industry. It is not just a matter of prosecution, but also of persuasion,” stated Carlos Anaya Rosique, chairman of the Mexican Chamber of the Publishing Industry (CANIEM).

In turn, the Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Copyright Infringements of the FGR seized 73,565 books in the past three years: 1,425 in 2016; 61,165 in 2017, and 10,975 in 2018.

Another subject of concern is that four in every 10 books sold in the country are counterfeit. “They are illegal. This clandestine industry has grown enormously as the federal government’s efforts to fight this type of crime have diminished. As a non-governmental authority, there is very little we can do except to report suspicious activity. We have no elements to prosecute book piracy. The federal government should be in charge of that,” stressed Anaya Rosique.

Piracy poses a threat to bibliodiversity. Mexico’s publishing industry has fewer and fewer economic resources to produce books. This increases the costs of book editions. “If instead of 2,000 volumes, for instance, we only produce 500, their costs would obviously go up,” he explained.

On April 2016, EL UNIVERSAL reported that criminal groups were editing an average of 10 million counterfeit books per year. Said criminal networks hurt authors directly, since authors usually get paid barely 10% of the book costs.

A shrinking market

“It would seem that the high costs are the main reason why the counterfeit book market has thrived, but I would rather reverse said statement by saying that books are expensive because of piracy, and because our market is growing smaller and smaller, driving up investment costs,” pointed out the head of CANIEM.

The 2015 National Reading and Writing Survey conducted by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA), claimed that each Mexican household owns an average of 40 books (not textbooks), according to a 79.2% of people surveyed, though it is likely that many of said books are counterfeit.

Furthermore, 49.1% of people claimed they lacked the money to purchase reading materials and 9.5% claimed that books were too expensieve to read.

The 2018 Reading Module of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) showed that 1.7% of people did not read due to lack of money.

Counterfeiting by the numbers

The country’s records on the amount of counterfeit books seized are poor; According to the Attorney General of the Republic, Mexico City ranked in the first place between 2007 and 2018, with 412,250 pieces seized; Next was Puebla, with 12,988 books; Aguascalientes, with 691; Jalisco with 151; Coahuila with 40, and Guanajuato with 39.

States such as Baja California, the State of Mexico, Durango, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz also showed up on the list, each with less than five counterfeit books confiscated.

For their part, the PF confiscated most books in the State of Mexico (126,221), Mexico City (44,820), Chiapas (1,400), and Campeche (14). All 164 tonnes of books confiscated were registered in Mexico City.

As for detainees “in possession of counterfeit books that were put at the disposal of authorities,” the PF only carried out 14 arrests between 2007 and 2018. Furthermore, the FGR arrested eight men and one woman for producing and selling counterfeit books between 2010 and 2018.



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Today, EL UNIVERSAL reveals a dramatic reduction in the fight against piracy, especially against counterfeit books
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