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Tuesday, April 01, 2014
U.S. Releases Trade Report On Worst Copyright Offenders
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its latest "Special 301 Report," an annual effort designed to highlight the inadequate copyright protection measures of U.S. trade partner nations.
In its report, the USTR identified a variety of legal and enforcement deficiencies by which countries allow illegal services to operate. It identified services like vKontakte (Russia), Xunlei's Gougou (China) and Sohu's Sogou (China), which are said to provide illegal music downloads.
"vKontakte, Gougou and Sogou each operate extremely well-known and popular unlicensed music services that permit their users to access, stream or download millions of illegal titles," said Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "While they employ different techniques, the result is the same in each case?the stunting of the growth of legitimate online services unable to compete against this form of unfair competition. Each of these services deliberately gain market share by providing access to copyrighted works without any form of licensing."
Thanks in part to the work of the U.S. government over the past couple of decades, there are fewer and fewer places that are hospitable to piracy. However, RIAA says that this is not to suggest that the problems have been resolved.
China has adopted structural changes to enhance its ability to fight piracy, and has issued draft laws and regulations that will add new tools to address online theft. Indian courts have protected the Indian market by blocking access to infringing sites. Even Russia has raised the need to address piracy and has floated some ideas about how to enhance the role of service providers in addressing the theft taking place over their platforms. And Canada appears poised, after many years, to finally adopt copyright amendments that will at least partially modernize their legal regime.
According to the latest report, China and Russia, notwithstanding the fact that there has been some progress, remain as two of the biggest IPR offenders.
The report also rases concerns about lack of progress in Italy.
Spain and Switzerland were not listed in the report.
The Spanish market has been decimated by piracy over the past decade. In one of its first official acts, the Rajoy administration brought into effect new procedures designed to address online piracy.
On the other side of the coin is Switzerland which has thus far manifested little understanding of the gravity of the online piracy problem, although there are just few, if any, existing remedies.