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April 28, 2017 | International

U.S. Trade Representative Issues Special 301 Report, Cites Stream-Ripping As Key Industry Challenge

WASHINGTON – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today released its annual Special 301 Report on promoting strong intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement in foreign countries. In its report, USTR highlights several priorities of the music community – such as strong copyright laws that promote streaming, which now comprises more than half of the music industry’s revenues – as well as the key challenges, including sustained and effective enforcement actions to combat stream ripping, which has emerged as a significant and fast-growing form of online music piracy.  Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman offered the following comment on the report:

“The Special 301 Report is a critical U.S. government initiative. With this report, USTR has delivered a clear action-oriented message regarding the importance of copyright protection and enforcement for the music industry and the contributions of the American creative community to driving U.S. economic growth, job creation and trade surplus.”

“Notably, this report highlights the unique challenges for rights holders, namely in countries where copyright laws have not been able to adapt or keep pace with new forms of piracy.  For example, for the first time the report cites stream-ripping as a prevalent form of piracy and calls for concrete action by our trading partners to address this and other increasingly problematic forms of online theft. The threat posed by stream-ripping to the American music community – an industry that now derives nearly 80 percent of its revenues from digital platforms and services – is significant. According to research firm MusicWatch, the number of people in the U.S. who have used stream-ripping services has increased by more than 50% since 2013.”

“We welcome the report’s emphasis on the ‘Administration’s aggressive efforts to defend Americans from harmful IP-related trade barriers.’  This includes calling on China to amend its Copyright Law to close major gaps in protection, urging other key markets to address concerns regarding overly-broad exceptions that undermine protection, and improving enforcement efforts to combat music theft.  Piracy – as well as other IP-related barriers such as unfair competition resulting from antiquated laws that shield some user-uploaded services from being held liable for the massive theft on their networks – create market distortions that devalue creativity and innovation, and that hurt artists, labels and fans alike.”

“RIAA is particularly grateful to the USTR and interagency team for its tireless work to produce yet another high-quality Special 301 Report that commits to promoting copyright protection and enforcement around the world.  We look forward to working with USTR and other U.S. government colleagues to build on the momentum started by Special 301 Report.”