US criticises China in Special 301 Report


The US government has highlighted China as a hotspot for Internet piracy in a report assessing 40 countries’ efforts to protect US citizens’ IP.

In this year’s Special 301 Report, China is especially criticised for failing adequately to stop people transmitting sporting events illegally. The report adds that linking sites “exacerbate” piracy problems in China.

According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, which compiles the annual report, China and other countries including Brazil and India must take stronger action to combat Internet piracy. The report claims US rights owners have complained about new technologies that facilitate piracy on mobile phones, tablets, and even ring tones and scanned books.

The report says pirates are increasingly creating “hybrid” websites that offer counterfeit goods as well as copyrighted works, in an effort to create a “one-stop shop” for users looking for cheap or free content.

It adds that there are “serious concerns” about copyright infringement in Switzerland. According to the report, US rights holders are struggling to secure “legal redress” for Internet piracy committed against them. “The US strongly encourages Switzerland to combat online piracy vigorously and to ensure that rights holders can protect their rights over the Internet,” says the report.

The US wants to work with the following countries to reduce online piracy: Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Some of these countries are also on a separate priority watch list of 13 countries whose efforts to protect IP are seen as poor.

Despite the existing concerns, China is commended for improving its response to Internet piracy. Spain, Russia, the Philippines and Colombia are other countries that have made “positive developments”, according to the report.

Spain has actually been removed from the US government’s watch list, mainly as a result of introducing the Sinde Law, which can allow websites to be blocked within 10 days of a complaint. Russia has amended its Criminal Code to clamp down harder on Internet pirates, while the Chinese government has taken steps to develop a wider and more cohesive effort to tackle IP infringement.

This article was first published on 14 June 2012 in World IP Review

Special 301, online piracy, sport, anti-counterfeiting, copyright infringement

Trademarks and Brands Online