US Copyright Industries Call For Action On Piracy; NGOs Call For Scrutiny

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The major US copyright industries today issued a list they said “documents rampant online and physical piracy of copyrighted works and severe market access barriers.” Public interest groups will be watching closely to see if the list submitted to the US government is incorporated wholesale into an upcoming package of government assertions of inadequate protection of US intellectual property rights by trading partners.

The “report” was issued by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), an umbrella of associations representing all the major copyright industries such as music, film, and software. It constitutes this year’s IIPA submission to the US Trade Representative annual “Special 301” process that unilaterally identifies problems in other countries and threatens to sanction them if not remedied.

IIPA recommends that 10 countries be placed on the Priority Watch List in 2012: Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, and Ukraine. There were also 22 countries recommended for the Watch List: Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Paraguay was also mentioned for problems.

In an example of an assertion, close US political ally Switzerland was recommended to be added because of a high court decision that for civil actions, private parties such as copyright holders cannot collect the internet protocol addresses of internet users alleged to be sharing unauthorised content over public networks. Swiss courts were said to take the action in the interest of citizens’ privacy. It was also later determined that figures on piracy in the country are insufficient but that the vast majority of content in Switzerland is foreign, which translates into little harm to the national economy from piracy.

The IIPA recommendations and press release are here.

Meanwhile, advocacy group Public Knowledge has launched a petition telling USTR not to follow industry’s recommendations so automatically, but to take all views into account.

“More often than not, the USTR appears to take big content’s comments at face value, ignoring the views expressed by PK and our allies,” Public Knowledge said. “The resulting list is used to pressure foreign countries to adopt stricter IP laws and more draconian enforcement mechanisms, often with little consideration for free speech or the effect on due process. The recent outrage over SOPA/PIPA demonstrates that overreach in the name of protecting IP is unacceptable.”

The petition is here.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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