IIPA Recommends Adding Brunei, Others to Special 301 List
28 August 2012
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has submitted recommendations to the US Trade Representative (USTR) in its annual “Special 301” review. The IIPA report documents rampant online and physical piracy of copyrighted works and severe market access barriers, surveys problems and developments in 41 countries/territories, and recommends that 32 of them be placed on the USTR list of countries/territories that deny adequate and effective IPR protection or that deny fair and equitable market access.
“The Special 301 process is an important trade tool for achieving improvements to protect our nation’s creative industries, reduce piracy abroad, and topple market access barriers to US copyrights,” the IIPA said in a statement. “In this year’s IIPA report, we highlight the severe harm caused by piracy in the online and physical environments and market access barriers in many of the United States’ key trading partners.”
The IIPA recommended that 10 countries be placed on the Priority Watch List in 2012, including China, India, Indonesia and Thailand. It asked the USTR to place or maintain 22 countries on the Watch List, including Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan were singled out for “special mention” in the report.
“Hong Kong enforcement authorities are actively engaged in efforts to combat piracy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and in general have close and productive working relationships with right holder organizations,” the report said. “However, the Hong Kong Government has long recognized that its Copyright Ordinance needs updating for the digital networked environment, and in 2011 took some important steps forward in the protracted process of making those updates.”
The report notes that a major focus of the entire digital environment law reform effort in Hong Kong has been a more effective response to online piracy.
“The problem is serious there, with high levels of music piracy taking place via forum sites such as uwants.com and discuss.com.hk; infringing distribution hubs like Filesonic; and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services using protocols such as BitTorrent, eMule, and Xunlei. A critical goal for legislative reform must be to provide strong legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with right holders in order to deal with the problem,” the IIPA said.
The organization said that while the copyright law and enforcement provisions of Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which came into force in 2005, have been largely successful, several significant shortfalls must be addressed.
IIPA 2012 Special 301 Country Recommendations, including all Asian nations recommended for the list, and selected others
Priority Watch List
“Online piracy continues to threaten Singapore’s market for copyright works, especially music, movies, and television programs. The government’s response to date remains clearly inadequate, both in terms of its continued refusal to bring public prosecutions of online music pirates, and its failure to bring internet service providers into a cooperative stance with rights holders to combat online piracy. Both these shortfalls also raise serious FTA compliance issues. Singapore also should join the global trend and outlaw camcording in its cinemas, before a festering problem becomes more serious, and should consider upgrading (to deterrent levels) its criminal penalties for trafficking in circumvention devices and services.”
The IIPA says that internet piracy is the most urgent problem in Taiwan, and while physical piracy is generally under control, a major exception is the commercial photocopying of textbooks on or around university campuses. “Unfortunately, several developments in the past couple of years raise newfound concerns over the Taiwanese Government’s continued commitment to fight piracy in all its forms, and warrant this Special Mention report on Taiwan in the Special 301 process. We are deeply concerned by reports that the Taiwanese Government is considering diluting the role of the Intellectual Property Rights Police unit – the establishment of which was a contributing factor in Taiwan being removed from the Special 301 list.
“IP criminal cases apparently receive less attention because IPR crimes earn less credit for officers than other crimes, thus diminishing a police officer’s chances for promotion. Evidentiary burdens on right holders in Internet and other piracy cases stifle their efforts at bringing complaints, and emphasize the need to establish copyright infringements, whether online or otherwise, as ‘public crimes.’ Campus enforcement against piratical activities remains difficult.”
The IIPA notes that the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), under its new leadership, “has not followed through with the needed push to address internet and campus piracy, and appears to be moving in the wrong direction on copyright law reform. There were great hopes that Taiwan would be a regional leader in addressing internet piracy through passage of the ISP liability law in April 2009, and through TIPO regulations adopted in November 2009, which clarified liability standards for ISPs. However, administrative guidelines still have not been issued with respect to key aspects of that law that were to deal with P2P and other online infringements, leaving a critical part of the law essentially inoperative. The ability for right holders to leverage much-needed cooperation from ISPs in combating such online infringements has therefore been stifled.”