Rep. Watson urges colleagues to support bill

WASHINGTON — Hollywood stands to reap a raft of antipiracy protections if Congress signs off on the U.S-Australia Free Trade Agreement as expected this week.

In recent days, however, Democrats have taken exception to separate drug import provisions in the deal, so final approval will not come without a spirited debate. Aware of the divisive nature of the issue, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), who chairs the Entertainment Caucus, stepped in Tuesday to tout the trade pact’s showbiz benefits and urge colleagues to support it.

“Around the world we are fighting international piracy of American films, music and videogames,” she wrote in a letter sent to every House member. “In this bilateral agreement, Australia has committed to join that fight and enforce strong protections against piracy — a step that will be of great benefit to the U.S. economy.”

Australia is the eighth largest market for filmed entertainment and the ninth for recorded music, so showbiz has a keen interest in the trade deal’s approval.

After months of negotiations, Australia agreed to greater access to its markets for U.S. entertainment products, including zero tariffs on all movies, music, consumer products, books and magazines imports. It also agreed to implement the WIPO Internet treaties, which provide greater protections for digital copyrighted material and extend the term of protection for copyrighted works.

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