May 2, 2005 3:52 PM PDT

Rampant piracy lands China on 'watch list'

The Bush administration has placed China on a "priority watch list" for allegedly not doing enough to protect intellectual property rights.

China's skeletal copyright laws and lackluster enforcement have combined to create a free-for-all haven for piracy, the U.S. Trade Representative said in a report on Friday.

"China must take action to address rampant piracy and counterfeiting, including increasing the number of criminal (infringement) cases and further opening its market to legitimate copyright and other goods," said acting U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier. (The Senate recently confirmed Robert Portman as USTR.)

While elevating China to "priority watch list" is largely symbolic, it does indicate the Bush administration's willingness to pressure the Communist government to crack down on rampant piracy. Among the administration's requests: criminal prosecutions, new laws, and adoption of the type of "anti-circumvention" laws found in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

China made commitments in principle to take many of those steps at an April 2004 trade summit.

The USTR's report also singles out Canada, America's largest trading partner, as having inadequate copyright laws. A Canadian court, for instance, ruled last year that it was legal to download music on peer-to-peer networks.

That ruling, the USTR said in its report, is out of line with the laws in "nearly all other developed countries." Canada will stay on the USTR's "watch list," along with Azerbaijan, Belarus and Malaysia.

In addition, the USTR said, "the U.S. copyright industry is concerned" that Canada has yet to adopt anti-circumvention laws akin to the DMCA. Canada's "progress in providing an adequate and effective (copyright) protection regime" will be closely monitored over the next year, the USTR said.

"This represents the first shot across the Canadian bow," warned Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. "If history is any indicator, the copyright reform plan is going to face an onslaught of U.S.-backed lobbying for stronger protections in the months ahead."

4 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Wholly inappropriate for the U.S..
to trying and force a measure as controversial as the DMCA on other countries. Especially considering the abuses of it by copyright holders in this country.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indeed
I understand being judgmental to China for the mass producing of copyrighted material (for anyone who has not seen it first hand trust me, it is bad there; anything can be bought for a few dollars) but Canada in some ways (Blank CDs for example) has harsher laws than the US.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Canadians pay for downloads
Downloads are free in Canada only for PERSONAL USE, not for commercial use. And the recording industry does not suffer from this, because there is a fee built into the cost of recordable media -- e.g. audio cassettes, video cassettes, recordable CDs, iPods, etc. -- which is passed on to the recording industry to recompense its artists.

Note that the fee applies to recordable media even if they are not actually used for recording music, videos, etc. For example, I buy recordable CDs for backups, and have never used them to record music, but I still have to pay the fee.

(Note: the fee for iPods and similar devices has recently been struck down because it turned out that the government agency dealing with this issue had no jurisdiction to do so, but this will be corrected.)

So the USTR really has no valid reason to try to force the DMCA on Canada: the artists do get paid for their works; Canada is not a haven for piracy.
Posted by cupsdell (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
American Fascist
I love to see my country being the police of the world. Why do we think that we have the power to force other, sovereign nations to abide by our laws!! I apologize for the US thinking it owns the world.
Posted by judson.serumgard (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.