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U.S. Highlights Global Piracy Shortfalls

1 May, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in its annual report released April 30 on the effectiveness of protecting intellectual copyrights globally, again singled out China and Russia — among 43 trading partner countries — for failing to adequately safeguard against the piracy of U.S. movies, music and printed material.

Last month, the United States said it would formally address the World Trade Organization regarding China's feeble attempts to curb a burgeoning black market that puts a premium on pirated DVDs, CDs, software and books aided in part by severe government restrictions on the legitimate sale of Hollywood movies and printed material.

The United States has since been joined by Canada, the European Union, Japan and Mexico in that complaint, according to the USTR.

The Special 301 report found that in Russia, large-scale production and distribution of infringing movie DVDs and music CDs and limited monitoring of Internet piracy remain serious issues.

The report said the coming months would be critical as Russia attempts to curtail piracy within its borders as part of a separate bilateral agreement with the United States to join the WTO.

“I know that Russian colleagues see the value of intellectual property to Russia's economy and are working hard to deliver on their commitments,” said USTR spokesperson Susan Schwab. “I urge them to make the most of the coming weeks and months.”

The USTR said it is conducting similar piracy probes in Brazil, the Czech Republic and Pakistan. Indeed, the agency said it has dropped probes in the Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, the EU and Latvia.

Motion Picture Association of America chairman and CEO Dan Glickman hailed the report but said piracy of U.S. movies in Canada deserved greater scrutiny.

“Canada is now, and has been for some time, a haven for camcorder thieves who are often linked to highly organized criminal networks that profit handsomely from their activities,” said Glickman.

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