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U.S. Joins Industry in Piracy War
For the United States, the focus is on intellectual property. And the U.S. wants to make sure the mistake of China is not repeated.
"We let China in and China has not fully complied with the WTO requirements" for protecting intellectual property, Glickman said. The MPAA has an enforcement division in Hong Kong whose members accompany local law enforcement officials on raids. "The time to get action is now, rather than after they get in," Glickman said.
In Russia, CD and DVD pirates have established manufacturing plants on abandoned Soviet military bases, Glickman and RIAA President Mitch Bainwol said. A Web site called Allofmp3.com is selling millions of songs without authorization from copyright holders. The site looks as professional and legal as Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes online music store. It claims to be licensed by a Russian agency to sell music, but U.S. trade groups aren't satisfied. None of the revenue generated from the 10-cent song downloads on the site goes to the artists, Bainwol said.
Moscow began an investigation of Allofmp3.com, dropped it, then picked it back up again after U.S. pressure was applied, said RIAA Executive Vice President Neil Turkowitz, who has traveled several times to Russia and filed criminal complaints with prosecutors there about the site.
"The Russian government is aware of all really existing problems in the [intellectual property] sphere and makes active efforts to solve them step-by-step," the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade wrote in an April paper translated into English. "We will undertake a complex of additional measures in [the intellectual property] sphere in the nearest future with the intention to speed up the work in this sphere."
Two e-mails to the site administrator of Allofmp3.com went unanswered.
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Espinel said shutting down Allofmp3.com "is right at the top of the agenda. This is a top-priority issue in terms of our discussion with Russia and the WTO."
As the bilateral talks with Russia continue, congressional leaders are bringing pressure to bear on President Bush, who has vowed to speed that nation's entry into the WTO. Working against Russia, the lawmakers say, are its plans to make intellectual property rights violators subject to civil, rather than criminal, penalties.
The U.S. government and the entertainment industry have a right to raise such issues with foreign nations, the RIAA's Turkowitz said. Movie and music piracy, he said, "is a problem that really doesn't know any borders."