US Puts 12 Countries on Tight IPR Watchlist, Eases on RP

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- China, Russia and 10 other nations were targetted by the United States for failing to sufficiently protect American producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy.

The Bush administration on Monday placed the 12 countries on a "priority watchlist" which will subject them to extra scrutiny and could eventually lead to economic sanctions if the administration decides to bring trade cases before the World Trade Organization.

In addition to Russia and China, the 10 countries placed on the priority watchlist were Argentina, Chile, Egypt, India, Israel, Lebanon, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Another 31 countries were placed on lower level monitoring lists, indicating the concerns about copyright violations in those nations did not warrant the highest level of scrutiny.

The countries placed on a lower-level watchlist were Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, South Korea, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

In addition, the administration said that Paraguay would be subject to special monitoring to see if it is addressing copyright concerns.

The designations occurred in a report that the administration is required to provide Congress each year highlighting problems American companies are facing around the world with copyright piracy, which they contend is costing them billions of dollars in lost sales annually.

"We must defend ideas, inventions and creativity from rip-off artists and thieves," US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said in a statement accompanying this year's report.

The administration earlier this month announced that it was filing two new trade cases against China before the World Trade Organization. One of those cases charged that China was lax in enforcing its laws on protecting American copyrights and patents.

The annual report, known as a "Special 301 Report," for the section of US trade law that it covers, said that China has a special stake in upgrading its protection of intellectual property rights, given that its companies will be threatened by rampant copyright piracy as they increase their own innovation. …