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US copyright advocacy group calls for trade initiatives

February 10, 2016

By Colin Mann

The US’s leading creative industries, whose products and services are fostered and protected by copyright laws, has called on the US Government to leverage US trade agreements and other trade tools to further open key international markets to opportunities for legitimate digital business, and to address acts, practices and policies that stand as obstacles to achieving this goal.

In the submission made in the annual ‘Special 301’ inquiry launched by the US Trade Representative (USTR), the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) stressed that the US economy loses vital economic and export opportunities every year because of trade barriers in overseas markets. These barriers, including insufficient legal and enforcement tools to deal with organized copyright infringement enterprises online, stand in the way of growth of a legitimate digital marketplace for US and foreign creators alike.

The IIPA noted that the core copyright industries — including music, films and TV, video games, and text publishing — are a major segment of the US economy, generating over $1.1 trillion dollars of economic output in 2013, and accounting for nearly 5.5 million US jobs. But their efforts to deliver their content to more people in more countries in more diversified and flexible ways than ever before are hampered by unfair competition from those who engage in infringement on a commercial scale as a high-profit, low-risk enterprise.

IIPA’s submission highlights markets that stand to influence—for better or worse—international respect for legal means of disseminating copyrighted works, and in particular:

Focuses on key markets where sustained engagement by the US government will reap positive results for creators and the industries that support them;

  • Calls for USTR to designate Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country;
  • Recommends six countries — Chile, China, India, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam — for placement on USTR’s Priority Watch List;
  • Identifies nine countries – Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Arab Emirates — for placement on USTR’s Watch List; and
  • Asks for a formal review of Spain’s performance under each of the benchmarks in its pending Out-of-Cycle Review, and then for USTR to take appropriate action.

According to Steven J. Metalitz, IIPA Counsel, the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 Review initiates a crucial annual dialogue on markets that have unfulfilled potential for US creative products, and highlights the changes needed in the legal and enforcement structures in those countries to permit fair and expanding marketplaces both online and offline. “This week’s signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a timely reminder of the valuable role our government plays in promoting US economic interests abroad, and of the need to seek enforceable commitments from key trading partners to remove impediments to legitimate marketplaces. TPP holds the potential to make a critical contribution, along with other trade agreements and Congressionally-mandated reviews like the Special 301 Report, to this market-opening drive,” he stated

“To reach foreign markets through legitimate and state-of-the-art channels, members of the publishing, film, music, and video game sectors rely on consistent, modern standards of copyright protection, efficient copyright enforcement, sound legal structures for licensing, and the elimination of market access barriers. Progress in these areas serves the dual purpose of advancing trade goals while clearing the way for our trading partners to develop and expand their own cultural and creative output. The ultimate objective is to promote markets where the creative industries can bring more products and services in an increasing variety of ways from a greater diversity of players before an ever-growing global audience,” he concluded.


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