WASHINGTON — The Clinton administration said Wednesday it is taking action against Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Ecuador for failing to live up to international copyright agreements.
In the case of each country, the Office of United States Trade Representative claims the nations are allowing the rights of U.S. copyright holders in the film, television and homevideo arenas to be infringed with relative impunity. In the case of all four counties, the USTR said it will pursue its complaints with an international dispute panel authorized by the World Trade Organization.
In addition, the USTR said it also may take action against Greece and Luxembourg if those counties do not clean up their act in coming months. In each case, the Clinton administration claims the countries have to implement copyright protections called for under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The copyright industry, which includes everything from TV programming to computer software, is one of the U.S.’ biggest exporters, ranking behind only the automobile industry and agriculture. In 1995, foreign sales of U.S. copyrighted material added up to $53.3 billion.
The USTR also said Monday that it is adding 10 countries to its “priority watch list.” Among those are the entire European Union, Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Paraguay Egypt and Argentina. All of the actions were taken under what the USTR calls the Section 301 annual review.
The USTR made special note of China, praising it for shutting down 39 factories specializing in the production of pirated material. But it also acknowledged the “serious and ongoing nature of substantial piracy in China.” The USTR said it would officially monitor China during the next year. “Monitoring China will put us in a position to move directly to trade sanctions if there is slippage in China’s enforcement,” said U.S. trade rep Charlene Barshefsky.
The Motion Picture Assn., which is the international arm of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, praised the USTR, and MPAA president Jack Valenti was particularly pleased to see Greece on the Priority Watch List. “For nearly a decade, Greece has tolerated unacceptable levels of unlicensed TV stations using copyrighted material without permission,” Valenti said.
The Recording Industry Association of America also praised the USTR action.