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Biz org presses U.S., WTO on China piracy

In 2004, industries have lost $2.5 billion to piracy in China

WASHINGTON — A coalition of six trade associations representing a large segment of the entertainment and publishing industries has urged the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and, for the first time, the World Trade Organization in Geneva to help stem copyright piracy in China.

The Intl. Intellectual Property Alliance, answering a USTR request for public comments regarding the effectiveness of China’s enforcement of intellectual property laws, told the agency that copyright piracy remains rampant.

The entertainment coalition asked that the U.S. trade rep enlist the aid of the WTO, the international body designed to resolve trade disputes. The alliance would even like the WTO to consider establishing a special dispute settlement panel to deal with China.

Alliance members feel that previous negotiations between the U.S. and Chinese governments have failed to address the problem adequately, hence the need for a mediator.

“Vice Premier Wu Yi told (the U.S.) government last April that the actions taken by the Chinese authorities would ‘significantly reduce piracy levels’ in China,” alliance prexy Eric H. Smith said in a prepared statement. “So far, while raiding and seizures in most copyright sectors appear to have increased, piracy levels have not been significantly reduced. Despite Wu Yi’s commendable efforts, piracy rates continue to hover around 90% of the domestic market, pirate exports are increasing, and our industries have lost, by conservative estimates, another $2.5 billion in 2004 to piracy in China.”

Neil Turkewitz, an exec veep at alliance member the Recording Industry Assn. of America, said China has “failed to follow through on meaningful copyright protection and enforcement against the widespread piracy of our industry’s products.”

Turkewitz added, “The situation in China is further exacerbated by China’s failure to provide greater access to its markets, thus limiting the supply of legitimate materials — a demand that is currently primarily met by Chinese pirates.”

Unable to comment specifically on the request for WTO involvement, U.S. trade rep spokeswoman Meena Moorjani said, “We’ve made it a top priority to effectively enforce China’s IPR (intellectual property rights) obligations under global trade rules. We will carefully review (IIPA’s comments and requests) and those of other companies and organizations and work closely with them to determine the next steps.”

Calls to the Chinese Embassy in Washington seeking comment were not returned.

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