Mike Ellis, the MPAA's topanti-piracy strategist for the Asia-Pacific region whose hands-on approachresulted in the seizure of roughly 44m illegal optical discs from 13 countrieslast year, has been promoted to senior vice president and regional director,Asia-Pacific.

Ellis will continue todirect strategic control of regional operations - as he has done since 1999 -and will also assume responsibility for promoting the MPAA and its membercompanies' commercial interests through greater copyright protection and marketaccess.

The former police officerwill relocate from Hong Kong to Singapore, which will become the home base forall MPAA regional anti-piracy and commercial operations.

Frank Rittman, vicepresident, Asia-Pacific, who joined the MPAA in September 2001 after workingwith the National Music Publishers' Association and The Harry Fox Agency, willassist with lobbying and anti-piracy enforcement efforts.

Under Ellis' supervision,the number of investigations conducted in the region in the first quarter of2004 increased by 15% over the same period last year, resulting in the seizureof nearly 11million pirated VCDs and DVDs.

Among Ellis' most pressingtasks ahead will be devising ways to stem the rising tide of online piracy inkey markets like Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan as well as emerging economieslike China and India.

In a statement issued today(May 3) MPAA chief Jack Valenti said: "Mike's inspired and innovative approachto the piracy battle and his proven ability to work effectively withgovernments will ensure the continued evolution of this crucial market."

Valenti said online piracyaccounted for more than 25% of member companies" potential revenue in 2003. TheMPAA attributes most of the estimated $718m in lost revenues to inadequate copyrightprotection in the region.

In 2003, MPAA operations inthe Asia-Pacific region investigated close to 15,500 cases of piracy andassisted law enforcement officials in conducting nearly 13,000 raids, resultingin the commencement of more than 9,000 law suits.