Showbiz coalition adds heat to Chile trade pact

Alliance seen as opening to an entire hemisphere, org sez

An entertainment industry coalition has strongly endorsed a pending U.S. trade agreement with Chile for its anti-piracy protections and expressed optimism the pact will expand markets in the rest of Latin America.

“When it comes to protection of intellectual property, the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement represents significant progress,” said the fledgling Entertainment Industry Coalition for Free Trade — repping Hollywood studios, trade orgs and unions — in a filing with the Intl. Trade Commission.

More than a doorway

“The entertainment industry looks at the U.S.-Chile FTA and sees not just a doorway to a single country but also an opening to an entire hemisphere,” it added. “America and Latin America share obvious and growing ties –cultural, economic and political. Yet, excluding Mexico, U.S. trade with the rest of Latin America is equal to only about 7% of total U.S. trade. It’s time for trade in that region to accelerate.”

The coalition said the pact, which still needs approval from President Bush and Congress, includes strong prohibitions against circumventing technological measures that protect copyrighted works; ensures that copyright holders have the exclusive right to make works available online; extends the term of copyright protection to 70 years from 50 years from publication; and mandates statutory and actual damages for piracy.

Org also said the agreement serves as a baseline from which to build further trade pacts even though implementation of key provisions will be slow.

“We are still several years away from declaring Chile a maximally functional digital marketplace,” the coalition said. “But the foundation that is established by this agreement will give us increased confidence, in the coming years, to make works available online.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has pledged support for the key goal of including anti-piracy language in trade pacts. Org launched in the wake of the U.S. music biz having been devastated by piracy and file-sharing and the movie industry growing increasingly concerned about facing the same fate.

DGA director of governmental affairs Kathy Garmezy said, “The issues of intellectual property and piracy are critical for the livelihood of our members.”

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