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'Copyright piracy has reached alarming level in China, India'

By Lalit K Jha
June 26, 2014 12:15 IST
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PiracyAn influential Congressional caucus in a latest report has expressed concern over alarming level of copyright piracy in four countries China, Russia, Switzerland and India.

It has added India to the 2014 Watch List.

The report ‘2014 International Piracy Watch List,’ by International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus highlights the high levels of piracy and the lack of legal protections for copyright in China, Russia, Switzerland and India.

"India continues to present a seriously flawed environment for the promotion of copyright and Intellectual Property," the report said.

Accordingly, the Caucus has added India to the 2014 Watch List, and notes that the Special 301 Report again lists India as a Priority Watch List nation and announced the intent to conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of Indian progress later this year.

"Despite a large domestic creative industry in film, music, and other copyright intensive industries, India continues to lag badly in both the legal framework for protection of IP and enforcement priorities.

Among the continuing issues in India are extremely high rates of camcording piracy, high levels of unlicensed software use by enterprises, and a lack of effective notice-and-takedown procedures for online piracy," the report said.

"Whether it is movie makers, musicians, or and app makers, our economy is based upon the principle that property should be respected -- not stolen --and this right does not end at the water's edge.

This is not only fair, but it is good economics," said Congressman Adam Schiff.

"That's why we started the Watch List -- to alert those who are profiting by stealing the hard work of American creators and the countries helping them that we are paying attention and we expect our trading partners to protect intellectual property rights.

Our creative industries employ millions of Americans and are some of our most competitive exports.

All we want is a level playing field where all nations live up to their obligations to protect intellectual property and enforce existing laws," he said.

Though the climate for intellectual property has improved, driven in part by a growing domestic creative sector within China, the scale of piracy remains massive, inflicting

substantial harm to American and Chinese creators, the report said.

In the coming year, the Caucus called on China to follow through on the commitments it has previously made, including fully implementing the US-China Film Agreement to expand market access for US movies, and its bilateral commitments to ensure legal software use in government agencies and state-owned enterprises.

Russia's lack of appropriate IP protection continues to allow for rampant Internet piracy, impacting markets far beyond their borders, the report said adding that stakeholders report that enforcement actions decreased in 2013, which is particularly distressing in light of commitments made by Russia prior to World Trade Organization accession in 2012.

In 2012, the Caucus added Switzerland to the Watch List based primarily on the deteriorating climate for copyright in the country following the 2010 Logistep decision by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

"The court's holding in the case rendered it virtually impossible for rights holders to bring actions against large scale peer-to-peer infringers.

There have been tentative steps to address the situation, both legislatively and through a test case to force as reconsideration of the Logistep precedent," the report said.

"This Watch List reminds us of the enormous economic importance of the American copyright industries and the many jobs they create," Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

"We should celebrate our country’s continued success producing movies, music, and software, but also must protect these jobs from digital piracy and other forms of theft," he said.

The American music, film, publishing and design industries comprise a significant portion of our nation’s economy, said Senator Orrin Hatch.

"Unfortunately we continue to see vast amounts of content on the Internet stolen by digital thieves.

The time is ripe for Congress and industry stakeholders to come together with a renewed focus to combat online piracy,” he said.

"If we allow people to take that work without paying for it, artists will no longer have any financial incentive to create new movies, software, video games, books and music.

The end result is the loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the US each year and even greater losses to our economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports," said Congressman Bob Goodlatte.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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