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WASHININGTON, DC/4/28/08–The Association of American Publishers (AAP) welcomed Friday’s release of the annual Special 301 report by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The report, the result of a Congressional mandate to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property protection in selected countries and territories worldwide, highlights book and journal piracy and the need for improved market access for American companies among important issues of engagement in 2008.
Intellectual property theft continues to be a global concern for the publishing industry, as AAP estimates that U.S. book and journal publishers lost over $500 million in 2007 due to commercial scale photocopying, illegal print runs, unauthorized translations and CD-R burning of text. Industry concerns about internet piracy have also skyrocketed in the past year. AAP, as a member of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), submitted specific recommendations to USTR on February 11 as part of the annual review process.
Friday’s USTR report assigns countries to various categories based on concerns about effectiveness in fighting intellectual property theft. Of particular concern this year are two lists– the Priority Watch List and the Watch List. USTR can also designate countries for ongoing monitoring under other trade provisions, or choose to conduct mid-year reviews.
Friday’s announcement places nine countries on the Priority Watch List, including Pakistan, Thailand, India and China. AAP applauds the USTR action regarding these four countries potentially lucrative markets for American book and journal publishers that remain largely unrealized, undermined by high piracy levels or market access restrictions.
China has made significant progress in fighting textbook piracy on university campuses, and deserves recognition for many of the efforts undertaken in this area. However, Internet piracy is fast paralyzing the market in certain sectors, and action by the Chinese government has been insufficient to stop the resulting massive, ongoing losses. It is in China’s interest to respond more quickly to requests for action on internet piracy, and AAP hopes that the attention focused on this issue in the Special 301 report will result in more concerted action. In addition, market access restrictions prevent development of a natural market in China, ultimately hurting Chinese readers.
Pakistan remains one of the world’s worst pirate book markets, and the government has been slow to employ the same type of rigorous enforcement it has successfully undertaken for other copyright sectors.
India continues to be plagued by inconsistent enforcement efforts and a court system that prevents resolution of cases in a reasonable timeframe.
It is in Thailand, however, that we have seen the most alarming recent book piracy developmentthe production of seemingly high quality pirated academic books for export to major overseas markets, including the United States. AAP is pleased with the USTR decision to bring attention to this and other issues in its report. AAP President and CEO Pat Schroeder stated, “This form of piracy dupes innocent consumers into believing they are buying the world’s platinum standard textbooks, when they are really getting knock-offs that show their true colors quickly after purchase. Stopping the infiltration of these pirate goods into our members’ global markets is a top AAP priority for 2008.” Mrs. Schroeder noted that the high level of cooperation from Thai authorities in recent weeks encourages hope that the pirate syndicates can be shut down in the near term: “This is a transnational problem that requires a transnational solution. We urge U.S. and Thai authorities to join forces with other countries affected to cut short this lucrative piracy chain. The problem begins in Thailand, and to this end the continued cooperation of the Thai authorities is critical to ensuring that the problem ends in Thailand.”
The report places 36 trading partners on the Watch List, among them important book and journal markets such as Canada, Brazil, Egypt, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan. AAP applauded the USTR call for continued bilateral engagement with these and other Watch List listees, noting in particular the out-of-cycle review scheduled for Taiwan. “Taiwan has taken great strides toward effective enforcement in recent years,” Mrs. Schroeder noted. “Now, it must focus on the impact of on-campus piracy, mobilizing the academic sector to join with enforcement authorities and right holders in ensuring that campuses do not become piracy havens.”
Finally, AAP also noted the importance of combining Special 301 and related processes with other endeavors, including multinational organizations such as the World Trade Organization, bilateral mechanisms such as the Trade Policy Forum in India and the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation process. The pending FTA with Korea, in particular, highlights important issues relating to university campus infringement.
The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP’s more than 300 members include most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societiessmall and large. AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer software, and electronic products and services. The protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the defense of the freedom to read and the freedom to publish at home and abroad, and the promotion of reading and literacy are among the Association’s highest priorities.
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