Culture minister Kim Howells has warned that music and software pirates also support drug dealing and prostitution.
His comments came after pop star Robbie Williams was quoted as saying music piracy was "great".But Howells told The Sun newspaper that the singer's comments amounted to "defending theft".
"Robbie Williams should realise many of these operations are linked to organised crime," Howells said. "He is doing the work for gangs involved in drugs and prostitution, who find music piracy an excellent way of laundering profits."
But one music pirate, based in one of the copy capitals of the world, Sofia in Bulgaria, denied that organised crime had any interest in piracy.
"Most of the people who copy CDs are kids who can't afford to buy the albums because they are too expensive. Yes, there are some organised pirates, but these are cottage industries and most of them would not even get parking tickets," he said.
"In Bulgaria, organised crime does not launder money in projects that have such low profit margins as music CDs. They invest in buildings or stocks and shares, like every other business."
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