• United States
Senior Correspondent

IIPA piracy petition criticizes Russia

Feb 13, 20063 mins
Intellectual PropertyNetworking

A coalition of U.S. trade associations representing copyright-based industries has called on the U.S. government to recognize serious copyright violations in Russia and to designate the country for possible sanctions.

The recommendation was contained in an annual submission made Monday by the International Intellectual Property Alliance to the U.S. Trade Representative ahead of the USTR’s “Special 301” review of piracy worldwide. The review gets its name from provisions of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 and allows the U.S. to impose penalties on countries judged to not be offering effective protection of intellectual property rights.

The IIPA is recommending that Russia be named a Priority Foreign Country, a designation reserved for countries that are judged to have the most onerous and egregious acts, policies, and practices that have the greatest adverse impact on U.S. products and to not be engaged in good faith negotiations or making significant progress in negotiations to address these problems.

“Russia’s copyright piracy problem remains one of the world’s most serious,” the IIPA said in its submission. Citing piracy rates of 85% for business software, 67% for records and music, 81% for motion pictures and 82% for entertainment software, the IIPA said repeated efforts by the U.S. government in these areas has yielded little progress. It also said Russia is home to “some of the world’s most open and notorious Web sites selling unauthorized materials” and offered as an example the Web site, which sells MP3 files of popular music for a few cents per song.

Ahead of the USTR’s report last year the IIPA also recommended Russia be named a Priority Foreign Country. However, only Ukraine was on the list when the report was published in April. Ukraine has been at that level for some years. It had some trade benefits withdrawn in August 2001 and in January 2002 the U.S. imposed $75 million worth of sanctions on Ukrainian imports. The IIPA’s recommendation calls for Russia to lose similar benefits.

The IIPA said Ukraine this time deserves to be placed with 15 other countries on the Priority Watch List, which is the second highest rank. The other countries are Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.

On piracy in China, the IIPA said the country’s piracy problem “remains dire, with no meaningful deterrence delivered by China’s enforcement regime.” The group called for a review of China’s status after a U.S.-China trade meeting scheduled for April.

The IIPA’s submission noted some progress made in 2005 against piracy. In particular it applauded Pakistan for closing down optical disc factories and said Brazil had shown a “new and welcome attitude” toward fighting piracy. It also said Taiwan has made progress in reducing piracy through improved enforcement.

Looking ahead, the IIPA said that Internet-related piracy has jumped several notches up its list of challenges and priorities, in part because of the rapid spread of always-on, high-speed broadband Internet connections.