WASHINGTON–The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which includes the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other copyright organizations, today issued its annual “Special 301” report to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) which this year highlights 49 countries, in particular China, Russia and Ukraine, that fail to provide adequate and effective protection for U.S. intellectual property abroad.
The RIAA issued the following statement by Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International:
“The creative community finds itself at a very exciting moment as technological developments facilitate an ever-increasing diversity of products and services, as well as unprecedented opportunities to reach music fans globally in a user-friendly manner. In fact, there are now more than 500 authorized platforms and services worldwide, from streaming to download services and everything in between, greatly enhancing consumer choice and the availability of legitimate music.
“Unfortunately, much of the potential of new technologies to drive expansion of music production and distribution, and the jobs that go with that, is undermined by extent of unfair competition in the online marketplace. Such unfair competition in the online market takes various forms, from market access restrictions which limit foreign investment or which apply onerous or discriminatory censorship regimes in places like China, Vietnam and a number of countries in the Middle East, to levels of piracy which force creators and their licensed partners to compete against unlicensed versions of their own creations. While all nations continue to struggle in one way or another with online piracy, there are nonetheless important distinctions to be made in how it has affected different markets, and how governments have responded to this challenge. In this report, we lay out many of those distinctions.
“In some markets, levels of piracy are so great that they essentially eclipse the output of the legitimate sector. China and Russia are two obvious examples. In the last year for which sales numbers are available (2011), the Russian music market contracted by 30% and had a total value of a mere $76 million —less than the value of the music market in Poland— notwithstanding the wide variety of authorized services available including mobile and internet platforms like Beeline, Deezer, iTunes, iviMusic, Megafon, mp3.ru, MTS, muz.ru, Nokia Music, Tele2, Yandex Music, Vevo and Zvooq. Much of this woeful performance is the consequence of the activities of a single internet company—vKontakte, previously identified by USTR as one of the world’s leading pirate marketplaces. It is a matter of singular importance that the Russian government complete pending legal and regulatory reforms that would prohibit companies from engaging in conduct designed to promote or induce infringement, and that they take action against vKontakte and others so that legal platforms have an opportunity to compete on a fair basis.”
“Similarly, the Chinese music market is in woeful shape as the result of runaway piracy and regulatory restrictions which complicate the operation of legitimate music platforms. In 2011, the value of China’s total market for recorded music was an abysmal $82.8 million. To put this in context, per capita revenue in China was one tenth what it was in Thailand, a country with a similar per capita GDP—and one not known for its stellar performance in the fight against piracy. In short, the Chinese music marketplace should be worth at least $1 billion. That is a lot of lost opportunity for U.S. and Chinese music communities alike, and we look to the Chinese government to rationalize its regulatory structure to remove unnecessary and discriminatory measures that complicate the operation of legitimate music platforms, and to take aggressive action against sites and individuals that continue to distribute infringing music.”
“In addition to China and Russia, today’s filing identifies a large number of issues that limit U.S. commercial opportunities in a variety of countries—most notably Ukraine where legal and enforcement failures have caused us to request that they be identified as a Priority Foreign Country and that their benefits under U.S. preferential trade programs (e.g. GSP) be removed. We hope that the Government of Ukraine takes prompt and effective action to address the various inadequacies identified in today’s report.”
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.
In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.
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