'Changing technology' a major challenge

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said despite progress the Justice Dept. has made against the piracy of intellectual property, the problem remains “very big,” and significant reduction of bootlegging in countries like China and Russia won’t happen until cultural changes occur — and they “take a long time.”

Speaking to reporters following the Tuesday release of Justice’s latest report on piracy (Daily Variety, June 20), Gonzales praised the agency’s ongoing efforts to toughen intellectual property laws and enforcement actions.

The major challenges are “changing technology,” Gonzales said, and the fact that “intellectual property theft doesn’t know any borders.”

As digital copying and distribution technologies improve, protecting intellectual property rights becomes harder. And the main offenders continue to be foreign countries, where cultural issues are as problematic as inadequate laws or law enforcement.

Gonzales said he has spent “a lot of time talking and visiting with my counterparts overseas” about cracking down on intellectual property theft and said that international cooperation has been “generally outstanding.”

Earlier in the day, during a luncheon speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Gonzales emphasized the attention he has devoted to both China and Russia.

“The fact remains that many commercial piracy cases now under investigation by federal law enforcement have a nexus to China,” he said. “Accordingly, we will continue to push for the recognition of intellectual property rights by the (People’s Republic of China) and for increased law enforcement cooperation. And just last week, I was in Moscow, where I spoke with my counterparts from the G8 countries — including Russia — about our global efforts to protect intellectual property.”

But China, with its restricted political and cultural concept of private property, will prove the hardest nut to crack.

“As they begin to have more stake in intellectual property — when they have their own skin in the game — we hope to see changes in Chinese law,” Gonzales told reporters.

Gonzales also emphasized Justice’s commitment to educating children about the wrongs of unauthorized downloading or file-sharing, noting that the agency is working with cabler Court TV to “drive the antipiracy message home.”

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