Eight out of 10 Mexicans purchase pirated merchandise due to "adverse economic situations," although many are aware they are committing a crime, the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico said.

In a press conference here Wednesday, AmCham executives said the group's fourth consumer survey on the topic showed that demand for counterfeit goods and contraband remained unchanged from 2009.

"But this time we found that consumers are aware that purchasing (pirated goods) is an illegal activity that has negative consequences for society," Mike Margain, vice chairman of AmCham's Committee on Intellectual Property, said.

Among those harmful effects, Margain said purchases of pirated products encouraged criminal behavior, weakened the domestic economy and threatened security and innovation.

In Mexico, organized criminals involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping and extortion rings also dominate most of the markets for pirated merchandise.

"It's a vicious cycle that will continue as long as the demand is there; that's why greater awareness is needed because buyers don't associate the problem with any personal cost," Margain said.

A total of 1,000 people in Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla and Guadalajara were interviewed for the AmCham study.

Music CDs accounted for 52 percent of the pirated goods purchased by survey respondents, followed by films, 49 percent; and items of clothing, 16 percent.

By contrast, when asked which pirated goods they would never consume, respondents mentioned medicine, food and cigarettes.

AmCham gave no estimate of the nationwide cost of piracy but it warned that this scourge limits formal job creation and damages the country's reputation as an investment destination.

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