The Bush administration has placed China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Egypt, India, Israel, Lebanon, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela on a "priority watch list" for failing to sufficiently protect American producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy. The 12 will be under extra scrutiny and could eventually lead to economic sanctions if the administration decides to bring trade cases before the World Trade Organization. Another 31 countries were placed on lower level monitoring lists, indicating the concerns about copyright violations in those nations did not warrant the highest level of scrutiny. The designations occurred in a report, known as a "Special 301 Report," that the administration is required to provide Congress each year highlighting problems American companies are facing around the world with copyright piracy, which they contend is costing them billions of dollars in lost sales annually. "We must defend ideas, inventions and creativity from rip-off artists and thieves," U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said in a statement accompanying this years report.
Representatives of U.S. companies applauded the new administration report but Oxfam America denounced the administration: "The report ignores important international agreements signed by the U.S. government ... which clearly state that developing countries have the right to place public health and the public interest over intellectual property rules," said Rohit Malpani, a policy adviser with Oxfam.
Neil Turkewitz, an official with the Recording Industry Association of America, said the administration was right to single out China and Russia for special criticism in the report. Dan Glickman, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, said the new report indicated "the scope of global piracy and serves as a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead."
News source: Physorg