October 28, 2002 9:13 AM PST

Mexico summit urges anti-piracy action

WASHINGTON--The United States, China, Japan and other Pacific Rim nations have agreed to take more steps to curb Internet piracy and cooperate more closely on punishing cybercrime.

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which ended Sunday in Los Cabos, Mexico, President Bush and other politicians agreed on a set of anti-terrorism and trade-related measures that included "curtailing copyright infringement over the Internet" and enforcing intellectual property treaties.

APEC's 21 member nations, which account for more than 60 percent of the world's Internet users, also vowed to "enact comprehensive cybersecurity laws" that follow the example of the Council of Europe's controversial cybercrime treaty.

"We call on APEC officials to continue to cooperate in implementation of the joint actions outlined above and monitor progress of implementation," political leaders attending the summit said in a joint statement. "It is also important that all APEC economies develop the capacity to participate fully in this endeavor."

Other nations that are members of APEC include Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and Vietnam. APEC members also agreed to "reduce barriers to market access in telecommunications and information technology products" and commit "to a long-term moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions."

The United States, which already has extensive copyright and computer crime laws in place, hopes the summit will compel other nations to follow its lead.

Unlike nearly any other nation, the United States has passed laws to discourage piracy: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) limits "circumvention" of copy-protection technology, and the No Electronic Theft Act makes unauthorized peer-to-peer file trading a crime. In July, the House of Representatives voted to make malicious computer hacking offenses punishable by imprisonment for life.

In Asia, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works is widespread. A report by the Software and Information Industry Association and the Business Software Alliance estimates that software piracy cost publishers $2.8 billion in 1999. In August, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit against U.S. Internet providers to try and compel them to block access to a Chinese music-copying site.

APEC's call for its members to follow the Council of Europe's computer crime treaty is likely to be controversial. Approved last November by the council's members and by nonmember participants the United States, Canada and Japan, the treaty awards police more surveillance powers and governs extradition and mutual assistance in pursuing suspects. Only member states Albania and Croatia have ratified the treaty.

Civil liberties groups have urged that the treaty be rejected, alleging it restricts privacy and free speech rights.

Citing the treaty's requirements, the Canadian government said in August that it was considering a plan to boost Internet surveillance and create a national database of every Canadian with an Internet account.

 

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