At a press conference on Wednesday the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus called attention to countries where piracy has reached alarming levels, including China, Russia, Canada, Spain, and Mexico.
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus is made up of more than 70 members of the Senate and House of Representatives. They presented the "2009 International Piracy Watch List" on Wednesday.
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus intends to focus on copyright piracy problems in China, Russia, Canada, Spain, and Mexico.
The Caucus is particularly concerned with the mounting challenges of protecting copyrighted works in the online environment. While they are pleased with the World Trade Organization?s ruling on several aspects of the China intellectual property rights (IPR) case, and are hopeful that this will spur progress in China, intellectual property theft there remains a serious problem that merits continued U.S. engagement, caucus said.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative and industry representatives, Baidu ? China?s largest online MP3 search engine ? is responsible for the vast majority of illegal downloading of music in China, deriving significant advertising revenue in connection with its music service.
While there have been some modest improvements in the piracy rate for computer software ? at 80% ? the software piracy rate remains much too high, demonstrating the need for redoubled enforcement efforts including the imposition of criminal penalties for corporate end-user software piracy.
China's crippling market access restrictions against some American content providers further exacerbate these problems, allowing pirates largely free reign in China?s market by significantly reducing the ability of U.S. copyright owners to provide legitimate content to Chinese consumers.
While Russia has made some progress on meeting its obligations under the U.S.-Russia IPR Agreement, much work remains before we can support Russia?s accession to the rules-based World Trade Organization, cacus said.
"We are disappointed that there has been inadequate progress in addressing Internet and optical disc piracy through the effective enforcement of criminal laws with deterrent penalties. Moreover, Russia should work quickly to implement an optical disc licensing regime and pass legislation granting ex officio authority to its enforcement personnel, both important elements of the U.S.-Russia Agreement."
"We remain deeply concerned that Canada has failed to update its copyright laws to provide for online enforcement, making it a safe haven for Internet pirates, "caucus sai.
Canada does not have any legislation or developed jurisprudence which clearly provides an effective means for copyright holders to protect their works from online piracy or to enable a legitimate digital marketplace to develop. This legal void has made Canada an attractive location for illicit websites, and Canada has regrettably become know as a "safe haven" for Internet pirates. There is an urgent need for amendments to the Copyright Act in order to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet Treaties. This includes provisions that prohibit circumvention of technological copyright protection measures and trafficking in circumvention devices, and proposals to ensure that copyright owners can effectively combat online piracy by enacting an effective legal framework governing Internet Service Provider (ISP) liability and responsibility.
Spain Creators continue to be gravely concerned with Spain?s rampant Internet piracy problem. Peer-to-peer (P2P) piracy in Spain is widely perceived as an acceptable cultural phenomenon, and the situation is exacerbated by a government policy that has essentially decriminalized illicit P2P file sharing. Moreover, the inadequate implementation of EU-level requirements regarding ISPs has contributed significantly to this problem. Spanish ISPs, exhibiting an unwillingness to collaborate in the fight against Internet piracy, make use of their file sharing and downloading service capabilities to promote their businesses. Negotiations between rights holders and Internet Service Providers to develop a framework to promote legitimate electronic commerce and full respect for intellectual property rights have yet to yield an acceptable conclusion. The current situation is untenable. We call upon the Government of Spain to exert active leadership, working with rights holders and ISPs, to implement reasonable practices to protect the legal transmission of creative works online.
"While Mexico continues to make strides in improving enforcement, the absolute level of piracy in Mexico and dearth of deterrent-level penalties are decimating this market," cacus said.
Piracy involving hard goods, piracy on the Internet, unauthorized camcording in theaters, and unauthorized photocopying at universities continued at high levels last year.
The following five factors continue to contribute to the lack of meaningful results: (1) unsatisfactory state and municipal government efforts, with only a handful of state governments interested in combating illegal trade and piracy; (2) the continued lack of adequate resources and the failure to implement a national anti-piracy plan that enhances and coordinates federal and state activities; (3) the lack of ex officio authority for law enforcement officials, resulting in the need for rights holders to file complaints even with respect to well-known pirate marketplaces where significant illegal activities continually take place(this tolerance for open and notorious pirating activity, in the absence of a formal complaint from a copyright owner, contributes to a societal perception that copyright infringement is not a serious offense and does not affect the interests of the state); (4) the lack of deterrent sentences, demonstrating the need for sentencing guidelines and judicial training; and (5) the lack of an effective legislative framework, which should include more robust circumvention and camcording prohibitions.
America is the largest creator, producer, and exporter of copyrighted material. Industry estimates that global piracy costs U.S. firms over $25 billion in lost sales annually.
"Fostering strong intellectual property protection builds the economies of not only developed nations, like ours, but for any nation striving to achieve a vibrant and growing economy," said Senator Hatch.