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USTR: Stepping In To Help Struggling Music Markets In Ukraine and Indonesia

June 29, 2012

The Office of the US Trade Representative announced today that it was accepting the petitions from US copyright industries in relation to the failure of Ukraine and Indonesia to provide adequate and effective intellectual property rights protection. If the offending practices are not adequately addressed, Ukraine and Indonesia could face the loss of preferential trading benefits under the General System of Preferences (GSP).

We hope that the major issues presented in Ukraine and Indonesia will be adequately addressed without the need for resort to the suspension of benefits. We have been particularly concerned about recent developments in Ukraine where the legitimate licensing body for record companies (Ukrainian Music Rights League, or UMRL) has been unfairly stripped of its accreditation while rogue societies continue to operate in concert with rogue sites such as the infamous ex.ua without interference from the state. While the authorities did take action against ex.ua in 2011, the site is back in operation and there is little evidence of any further action at this time. Internet piracy has ballooned out of control while legislation to enhance enforcement tools and corporate accountability remains stalled. It is a matter of great importance to US and Ukrainian interests alike that the Government of Ukraine moves quickly to restore the accreditation of UMRL to avoid further disruptions in licensing, that it takes enforcement actions against criminal enterprises operating online sites, and that it secures adoption of legislation that will help to establish conditions conducive to transitioning to a legitimate online marketplace.

We also call upon the Government of Indonesia to take prompt and effective action to address a long standing piracy problem in both physical and online markets. Music piracy rates are estimated at 95%. The Government should press forward to modernize its copyright law to cultivate an environment for the sale or licensing of legitimate music, and should eliminate market access barriers that serve little purpose other than diminishing the vibrancy of the legitimate sector.

 

Neil Turkewitz, EVP, International, RIAA