China, Russia remain havens for piracy

Thirteen countries were put on Priority Watch List

China continues to account for more piracy than any other country, followed closely by Russia. But the U.S. is promising new measures — including a possible complaint to the World Trade Organization — to bring China to heel on intellectual property rights protection.

So concluded the latest “Special 301” report released by the White House Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. An annual survey of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement among U.S. trading partners, the report identified 48 countries as deficient on the subject.

Thirteen countries were put on the Priority Watch List, which singles out governments that “do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection,” according to a USTR statement.

“Concerns regarding China and Russia feature prominently throughout the (47-page) report,” statement continued.

The target of increasing criticism from Congress for not taking a tougher stand against China’s piracy, the Bush administration promised to get tougher.

“USTR will maintain heightened scrutiny of China, step up consideration of its WTO dispute settlement options and, for the first time, scrutinize IPR protection and enforcement at China’s provincial level by conducting a special provincial review in the coming year,” statement said.

While Russian officials have improved antipiracy efforts since last year’s report, “High levels of IPR infringement remain, particularly infringements connected with Russia-based optical disc plants and Web sites,” statement said.

The other 11 countries on the Priority Watch List are Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

The 35 remaining countries were put on the Watch List, which identifies lesser offenders. They are the Bahamas, Belarus, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, European Union, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

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