WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has a message for countries that fail to enforce international piracy laws: We’re watching you.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on Thursday released the annual “Special 301” report, which ranks the countries with the most egregious records on protecting intellectual property.
Taiwan and Russia are two of the biggest culprits, making the office’s “priority watch list.” The report criticizes Taiwan for failing to shut down factories where optical discs are pirated and bootlegged VCDs are sold by street vendors. In Russia, DVD piracy has exploded; the country produces an estimated 30 million illegal discs a year, more than 10 times what the local Russian market demands, according to USTR.
The Russian government has shown some signs it is cracking down on the practice. Last week, Russian authorities razed an optical disc factory that supplied as much as 30 percent of the pirated DVDs in that country.
“We welcome and applaud the recent indications of a tougher approach to piracy by the Russian Government, and count on it to continue to take concrete initiatives to bring about real enforcement against optical disc piracy,” Motion Picture Assn. topper Jack Valenti said.
The Recording Industry Assn. Of America was glad to see the USTR single out the Ukraine as a “priority foreign country” as well as China and Paraguay.
The U.S. government imposed severe penalties on the Ukraine in recent years, and although there has been some signs of a decline in the production of pirated material, the country remains one of the biggest offenders.