Canada a Piracy Problem, Says U.S. Trade Rep

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Trade Representative has placed Canada, Algeria and Indonesia on its Priority Watch List for intellectual property piracy and also again cited Russia and China among problem nations.

The latest "Special 301" report issued Thursday finds Canada on the list for the first time, because of "increasing concern about the continuing need for copyright reform and also "poor border enforcement."

In the report, Ambassador Ron Kirk stated:  "In this time of economic uncertainty, we need to redouble our efforts to work with all of our trading partners -- even our closest allies and neighbors such as Canada -- to enhance protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the context of a rules-based trading system"

Also on the list are Indonesia and Algeria, while Korea has been removed because of policy changes regarding forms of content piracy. The USTR remains concerned about China and Russia, despite improvements in both nations, the report said.  The list also includes Israel, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela.

"I am particularly troubled by reports that Chinese officials are urging more lenient enforcement of IPR laws, motivated by the financial crisis and the need to maintain jobs," Kirk said. "China needs to strengthen its approach to IPR protection and enforcement, not weaken it."

Regarding Russia, Kirk stated the Obama administration is seeking to foster previous biliaerial agreement to improve IPR protection and enforcement.

View the entire USTR report.

In a press release, the Entertainment Software Association applauded the decision, which follows recommendations made by the group as well as other business organizations.
“Putting Canada on the ‘Priority Watch List’ is a signal of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening global intellectual property protection, and its intent to address this issue firmly with the Canadian government,” said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers.  “Canada’s weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S.”

New service AFP reports American politicians will raised Canadian piracy concerns at a bilateral inter-parliamentary meeting on May 15-18, according to California Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives foreign affairs committee.

The USTR office reviewed 77 trading partners for the report, placing 46 of them on the Priority Watch List or on a lower Watch List  or a monitoring list. The trading partners on the lower level Watch List of 33 nations includes Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Paraguay will continue to be monitored, the report said.