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February 6, 2015 | International

Coalition of Copyright Industries Highlights Major Impediments to Foreign Markets In 'Special 301' Submission

RIAA joins industry partners to identify key impediments to effective copyright protection in foreign markets.

As part of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), RIAA today filed a submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) identifying some of the key impediments to effective copyright protection in foreign markets. Under a provision of U.S. trade law known as “Special 301,” USTR is mandated by Congress to identify foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or fair and equitable market access for products and services that rely on intellectual property protection. Today’s submission, available here, requests that 13 countries be placed or retained on lists under Special 301.

Regarding the submission, RIAA EVP, International, Neil Turkewitz, observed:

“We are at an incredibly interesting and exciting moment for the future of everyone involved in the creative industries, and for all of the world’s consumers of what we create. Developments in communications technologies have enabled efficient global distribution of cultural materials, and the ability to offer diversified products and services tailored to the desires of individual users. The revolution in web-enabled communications has the potential to drive a cultural renaissance of unprecedented dimension. The question before societies around the world is whether this potential will be realized. To do so, we need to develop better legal tools to address the unfair competition posed by unlicensed platforms providing access to infringing materials, and to incentivize personal and corporate accountability throughout the Internet ecosystem. In many places, the current trajectory is less than promising, and today’s report identifies many of the key issues preventing creators from obtaining compensation for the use of their materials.”

“To be clear, no country, including the U.S., is immune from the harms posed by high levels of unfair practices on the Internet, and every country should be approaching these issues with creativity and fairness, understanding that solutions need to be proactive and contemplate responses in Internet time. Having said that, there are distinctions to be made between the efforts of different countries, and today’s filing highlights practices in some of the countries that have been least responsive in addressing piracy and capturing the opportunities presented in the current environment. In some countries like China and India, the average music revenue per user is a fraction of $1 per year, greatly undermining local and U.S. creators alike, and prejudicing both cultural diversity and economic development. Luckily, officials in both of these territories have recently woken up to the fact that piracy levels undermine their national interest, and have vowed to expand efforts to create a legitimate marketplace that will foster investment in creative enterprises. Some governments have remained far too passive in the face of piracy that affects their markets, including surprising ones like Switzerland. Canada, Spain and Italy were also in that category, but they have all recently taken actions to begin to address this problem. We urge Switzerland to similarly take up long-awaited reforms on an urgent basis, and for Spain, Italy and Canada to build on what they have started.

“Finally, there are a variety of countries where collecting societies chosen by music rightholders have been unable to collect, or to fairly collect, revenue for the use of their recordings. A number of the countries identified today fall into that category, including Russia, Ukraine, Mexico and the UAE, and we call on these countries to move quickly to adopt necessary regulations or practices to enable licensing on a fair, transparent and accountable basis. Today’s music industry is no longer based exclusively on selling objects, and licensing forms a core part of the revenue basis for sustaining the music community. Addressing problems in licensing has thus emerged as a core issue that must be addressed.”