Copyright Industry Displeased With USTR Report

The Office of the United States Trade Representative issued the Special 301 Report (PDF) for 2007.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It focuses on “the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement”. The detailed report didn’t sit entirely well with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) or RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America.)

The report focuses on China and Russia as being the worst for copyright protection. In the words of the report, “rampant counterfeiting and piracy problems have continued to plague China and Russia, indicating a need for stronger IPR regimes.”

The report isn’t all about bad news and condemnation, however. In fact, it offers a list of countries that ‘showed significant improvements’. In the list, the following were removed from the watch list: Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, the European Union and Latvia. Also, the following were removed from the priority watch list: Belize and Brazil.

The report also targets two “virtual markets” for piracy. The first is the Russian music website The report suggests that the infamous website is currently under investigation by Russian authorities.

The other “virtual market” is Baidu from China. The reason was for being “an estimated seven or more China-based “MP3 search engines” offering deep links to song files for downloads or streaming.”

Other countries that are on the priority watch-list are: Argentina, Chile, Egypt, India, Israel, Lebanon, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The watch-list contains the following countries: Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philipines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. A detailed reason for their placement was included for each country.

While the report was echoed by the copyright industry, there was a bit of dissatisfaction with the report as well.

In a press release issued by the MPAA, there was an agreement for China and Russia’s placement, but disagreement that Canada wasn’t on a priority watch list. “It is MPAA’s view that Canada should have been elevated to the Priority Watch List.” The press release continues, “Canada is now, and has been for some time, a haven for camcord thieves who are often linked to highly organized criminal networks that profit handsomely from their activities. This is of utmost concern given that Canada is a major trading partner and should be a global leader in IP protections.”

Meanwhile, RIAA commented that they agreed with most of the report, but singled out Canada. “USTR has left Canada on the watch list. While we had proposed that Canada be elevated to the priority watch list, we hope that its recent engagement on trying to advance the protection of intellectual property in global markets reflects the government’s intention to address these matters at home as well.”

The RIAA release continued, “For too long, Canada’s laws and enforcement practices have been out of step with international standards and have threatened the vitality of Canada’s creative sector. We hope that the Canadian government will move swiftly to expand economic opportunities in the cultural sector by introducing and enforcing appropriate norms and that we will not find ourselves in the position next year of once again calling for Canada’s elevation to the priority watch list.”

CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) has yet to make any comments on the situation.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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