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Copyright body recommends ‘Priority Watch List’ countries

February 13, 2012

By Colin Mann

US copyright-based industries private sector coalition the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has submitted recommendations to the US Trade Representative (USTR) in its annual ‘Special 301’ review. The IIPA report documents rampant online and physical piracy of copyrighted works and severe market access barriers, surveys problems and developments in 41 countries/territories, and recommends that 32 of them be placed on the USTR list of countries/territories that deny adequate and effective IPR protection or that deny fair and equitable market access. IIPA also advocates concrete solutions to address ‘Copyright Industries’ Initiatives and Challenges for 2012’. The report calls for urgent government action to address these concerns that undermine US job and export growth.

The report highlights the severe harm caused by piracy in the online and physical environments and market access barriers in many of the United States’ key trading partners. “We also note the need for swift action to address these concerns in order to foster legitimate commerce in copyright materials to the benefit of creators and consumers worldwide, boost US exports, create good high-wage jobs here at home, and contribute to US economic growth,” says the IIPA

According to the IIPA, the US core copyright industries – those that produce and provide business software, entertainment software, motion picture, television and home video entertainment, music, and book and journal publishing – remain important drivers of the US economy, contributing mightily to domestic growth and employment, including roughly 6.4 per cent to the US economy, nearly 5.1 million workers or five per cent of all US private sector jobs, and $134 billion annually in revenue from foreign sales and exports. “Increasing exports by reducing trade barriers like piracy and market access barriers is essential to our country’s economic well-being and long term growth,” argues IIPA Counsel.

IIPA recommends that 10 countries be placed on the Priority Watch List in 2012: Argentina, Canada, Chile, China (306), Costa Rica, India, Indonesia (GSP), Russia, Thailand, and Ukraine (OCR) (GSP).

It says that China should continue to be on the Priority Watch List and monitored under Section 306 of the Trade Act, despite positive developments in 2011, high copyright piracy levels persist in China, from widespread online piracy of music, films, television programming, and books and journals, to pervasive use of unlicensed software by businesses, pre-installation of unlicensed software and other copyright materials at the distribution level, and physical piracy including the online sale of hard goods pirated materials. “It is critical that China follow through on its high-level commitments to address physical and online piracy, including issuing a Judicial Interpretation ‘that will make clear that those who facilitate online infringement will be equally liable for such infringement’,” recommends the IIP.

According to the IIPA, Canada merits continued placement on the Priority Watch List, standing virtually alone among developed economies in the OECD (and far behind many developing countries) in failing to bring its laws into compliance with the global minimum world standards embodied in the WIPO Internet Treaties and in legislative best practices worldwide. “The country is cementing its reputation as a haven where technologically sophisticated international piracy organisations can operate with virtual impunity,” it claims.

Among other major territories, the IIPA recommends that Ukraine should be elevated to the Priority Watch List because of very weak enforcement and very high piracy rates (among the highest in Europe) for both hard copy and digital copyright piracy. “Ukraine is a key country in the region because it exports digital piracy around the world, including several notorious pay-for-download websites and some of the world’s top BitTorrent sites,” it observes.

Russia should remain on the Priority Watch List to reflect continuing serious concerns about Russia’s legal and enforcement regime related to many areas of copyright theft, as well as the current non-transparent situation with respect to the collective administration of the rights of performers and record companies.

India merits continued placement on the Priority Watch List. “Its market is stifled, and the potential of its creative industries suppressed, by problems such as physical, online, and mobile piracy (through both mobile uploading/downloading, and mobile applications being used to infringe); circumvention of technological protection measures, e.g., through the use of mod chips and game copiers; illegal camcording of movies from cinema screens; print and photocopy piracy; Pay TV theft; and unlicensed use of business software,” charges the IIPA.

IIPA asks USTR to place or maintain 22 countries on the Watch List: Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. IIPA again recommends that USTR continue to monitor developments in Paraguay under Section 306 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Spain’s efforts are highlighted. “We want to salute the Rajoy Administration for its prompt implementation of the Law on the Sustainable Economy (LES). The Spanish market for copyright materials has been decimated by piracy over the past few years. The Rajoy Administration, in one of its first official acts, adopted long-stalled implementing regulations for the LES. This gives us tremendous hope that this Government will take the kind of robust action needed to effect meaningful changes in online and physical markets. We will be watching the implementation of this law and the impact on the marketplace very closely. While much work remains to reverse the effect of years of failed government policies, we are buoyed by this Administration’s understanding of the gravity of the problem. We look forward to working closely with the Government to continue to drive progress in the fight against all forms of online and other forms of copyright theft.”

Categories: Articles, Content, Piracy, Policy, Regulation, Rights