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RIAA Identifies Piracy Problems In 56 Countries

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The Recording Industry Association of America, (RIAA), together with its sister organizations representing the motion pictures (MPAA and AFMA), business software (BSA), entertainment software (ESA), and book publishing (AAP) industries comprise the International Intellectual Property Alliance or IIPA. The IIPA group filed a report with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) identifying problems with copyright protection in 56 countries, including such countries as China, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil and Taiwan. This filing is part of an annual report that USTR is required by law to issue. USTR solicits public comments annually and issues the reports every April.

"Today's report to USTR reflects our heightened concern about the growth of illegal CD-R replication, organized crime's involvement in the manufacture and international distribution of pirate CDs and other media, and internet piracy," says Neil Turkewitz, executive vice president, International for RIAA. "The RIAA greatly appreciates the Administration's efforts in trying to solve these problems. We urge the Administration to continue and expand its efforts to stop the theft of U.S. copyrighted materials in foreign markets, including where necessary through the imposition of economic sanctions or the withdrawal of trade benefits where countries fail to take reasonable steps to afford adequate and effective protection.

"A critical part of our economy, the U.S. recording industry is vital to our economic competitiveness around the world." he added. "Today's Special 301 filing offers our recommendations to the U.S. government for their agenda in protecting American copyrighted materials in foreign markets. We urge the U.S. government to use every tool at their disposal to achieve these goals."

"The ability of the recording industry to sustain musical diversity and production of a wealth of materials is being undermined by a seismic shift in the scope and nature of piracy that must be stopped," he continued. "Whether we are talking about organized crime and its involvement in producing and distributing pirate CDs in Taiwan or Russia, lack of adequate enforcement efforts in China, Pakistan or Brazil, unchecked CD-R piracy in a developed market like Spain, or the lack of adequate legislation in foreign countries that inhibits our ability to prevent massive online infringement, our message remains the same – left unaddressed, each of these illegal activities will have dramatic repercussions on a critical part of the U.S. economy and on global cultural production."

"It is not only American works that are affected by piracy." he said. "We urge the United States and governments around the world to take immediate action to prevent the silencing of the global creative community, and to pave the way for greater economic growth by creating conditions that will nourish rather than inhibit the creative mind. The creative efforts of composers, performers and producers everywhere perish each day that governments fail to address copyright piracy. Society bears the long-term costs for such diminished cultural output."

Some highlights of the submission include recommendations to:

1. Designate Pakistan as a "Priority Foreign Country." Production and export of pirated production is skyrocketing in Pakistan. Exports of pirated Pakistani product have been found in at least 46 other countries. Firm action, including the possible imposition of trade sanctions, is now warranted. In addition, the submission recommends maintaining Ukraine's designation as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC). Ukraine was designated as a PFC in 2001 when USTR withdrew Ukraine's GSP benefits, and imposed $75 million in economic sanctions. Ukraine has taken some steps to address the problem of pirate CD production and export, but these have failed to adequately resolve the situation. Until Ukraine has satisfactorily addressed this problem, we will continue to press the Administration to keep the sanctions in place.

2. Elevate Bulgaria, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Kuwait and Thailand to the Priority Watch List (PWL), and maintain a number of other countries on this list, including Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Philippines, Poland, Russia and Taiwan. Brazil continues to be one of the largest pirate marketplaces in the world, and has not responded to a piracy situation that is threatening the very existence of the record industry in that country. Israel is presently considering a draft copyright law that would discriminate against U.S. performers and record companies in violation of its bilateral obligations with the U.S. If enacted, we will call upon the U.S. government to designate Israel as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC), and to withdraw economic benefits currently granted to Israel. Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan and Thailand are home to large scale enterprises involved in the manufacture and global distribution of pirate CDs-with the situation in Russia being particularly dire and the government thus far lethargic in their response to this growing threat. We call upon each of these countries, as well as Bulgaria where optical disc manufacturing capacity has again grown far beyond legitimate demand, to adopt, or in some cases fully implement, legal and enforcement controls over the operations of these plants. Piracy, once significantly reduced in Bulgaria, has returned in force. The markets in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon are completely dominated by piracy, and we urge these governments to take immediate steps to bring order to the marketplace by taking aggressive and sustained actions against pirates.

3. Continue to monitor China's and Paraguay's compliance with intellectual property (IPR) agreements reached with the United States. China's market continues to be dominated by piracy. Paraguay has taken certain actions, but it continues to be a hotbed of piracy and a source of infringing materials for Brazil and its other Mercosur partners. China and Paraguay must improve their performance to achieve compliance with their bilateral obligations. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen