India on International Intellectual Property Alliance’s priority watch list for piracy

MUMBAI: The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) submitted recommendations to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) urging increased efforts to stem copyright theft and protect American jobs in the annual “Special 301” review of intellectual property protection and market access issues in foreign countries.

The report by the copyright industries making up the IIPA focuses on copyright piracy, the legal and enforcement reforms needed to fight it and other market access barriers in 39 countries/territories. IIPA recommends that 35 of these countries be named to an appropriate USTR watch list.

Due to heavy prevalence of audio-visual piracy, India is on International Intellectual Property Alliance’s priority watch list.

IIPA also sets out the key global challenges facing the copyright industries in 2010 and the US government and industry initiatives that must be taken to meet them.

In commenting on this year’s submission and the Special 301 process generally, IIPA’s Eric H. Smith said, “With the U.S. economy continuing to shed jobs, our government needs to redouble its efforts to stem massive global theft of U.S. copyrighted works in physical form and on the Internet. The annual Special 301 process is an important tool in reducing piracy losses and re-building U.S. employment in companies critical to our 21st century economy. The U.S. creative industries − business software, entertainment software, film, television and home video entertainment, music, and book and journal publishing − are important drivers of the U.S. economy, contributing substantially to domestic growth and employment, including over $126 billion annually in revenue from foreign trade. As the Administration has emphasized, increasing exports by reducing trade barriers, like piracy, is essential to our country’s economic recovery and long term growth.”

Smith added, “Senior officials at USTR, the Commerce Department and the State Department, along with their capable staffs in Washington and abroad, have fought tirelessly to ensure that our trading partners respect U.S. intellectual property, improving the investment climate in those countries. This has always been a win-win endeavor for both developed and developing countries. However, given the many economic and financial challenges facing countries and their citizens today, the temptation for individuals and corporations to cut corners and engage in infringing activities may heighten. It is a critical time to generate increased awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation to both national and global economic recovery.”

Overview of IIPA’s 2010 Submission to USTR

This year’s IIPA submission reflects the copyright industries’ grave concern with piracy in all its forms. To meet this challenge, IIPA members are pressing for enhanced international norms, more effective and deterrent enforcement of those norms at the national level, and greater global law enforcement cooperation. IIPA’s full submission is posted on the IIPA website at www iipa.com.

Priority Watch List

IIPA recommends that 10 countries be placed on the Priority Watch List in 2010: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Mexico, People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and Russia. Specifically, IIPA recommends that Mexico and Costa Rica be elevated to this list, and that the Philippines be elevated and that an out-of-cycle review be conducted.

IIPA recommends that the People’s Republic of China remain on the Priority Watch List. The Chinese enforcement system continues to fail to bring to bear the manpower and resources necessary to deal with widespread piracy, whether corporate end user piracy of software, the online theft of music, movies, books and journals, and entertainment software, or the piracy of books, CDS, DVDs and other “hard goods.”

Low fines and an inadequate number of criminal cases have failed to deter piracy. At the same time, continuing – and in some cases more onerous – limitations on the ability of US companies to conduct lawful business and to provide access to legitimate content in China have contributed to an unfair environment in which only pirates, or companies who provide access to infringing materials, are permitted to operate. In some cases, market access limitations appear to be aimed at providing leverage to compel transfers of U.S. IP and technology to Chinese entities. Engagement with China must be multifaceted, including through the Special 301 initiative as well as through regular discussions and negotiations in the IPR Working Group in the JCCT process.

Canada merits continued placement on the Priority Watch List. Canada has taken no meaningful steps toward modernizing its copyright law to meet the global minimum standards of the WIPO Internet Treaties, which it signed more than a decade ago. Over 80 countries have joined these treaties, including the European Union and its member states, and virtually all other OECD members. The government’s top leaders acknowledged many of these deficiencies and announced their intention to reform the copyright law over three years ago. Yet today there is not even a reform bill pending in the Canadian parliament.

IIPA also recommends that Russia remain on the Priority Watch List. In certain areas progress has been made since our last review, while major problems still persist in other areas. In 2006, Russia signed a binding intellectual property rights agreement with the US, but it has not yet fully implemented that agreement. Piracy rates for many sectors continued at over 70% last year, but some improvement continued in the business software sector. The Russian government needs to continue to improve its criminal enforcement against all forms of copyright infringement. It must also ensure that collecting societies that have received State accreditation operate in a fair and transparent manner that adequately addresses the interests of U.S. and other foreign rights holders, and to take action against rogue societies and the pirate sites that claim to be licensed by them. Russian authorities need to work aggressively to combat camcording in theaters. In short, much remains to be done to achieve adequate and effective IPR protection in Russia and to secure compliance with the 2006 IPR Agreement. IIPA reiterates its interest in working with both governments to achieve these goals.

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