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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

Three Cheers For New WIPO Treaty

June 26, 2012

A diplomatic conference in Beijing successfully concluded with the recent signing of an international treaty for audiovisual performances called the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO’s) Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP). The treaty, a result of 12 years of negotiations under WIPO auspices, will now enter into force once it has been ratified by 30 eligible parties, including countries or certain intergovernmental organizations which have fulfilled all the necessary domestic legal requirements.

We appreciate that governments understand that copyright standards need to be updated to respond to technological changes in order to ensure the continued production of cultural materials other than on an amateur basis. It’s worth noting that the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) were themselves negotiated over 15 years ago – which is an eternity given changes in technology.

After listening to all the closing statements at the conference, it was interesting to hear the many interventions from developing countries highlighting the importance of fighting piracy to promote economic development, employment and cultural diversity – underscoring the fact that effective copyright protection, in law and practice, is an issue that unites creators regardless of where they are located.

We hope that WIPO will soon turn its attention to updating protection against signal piracy, and to considering ways of enhancing the fight against piracy of all original content in an Internet environment dominated by theft and unfair competition.


Neil Turkewitz, EVP, International, RIAA

More Evidence That Music Drives Social Media

June 25, 2012

“Music is a centrifugal force of commerce and culture,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said recently during a presentation before the Personal Democracy Forum. During that presentation, Cary noted, by way of examples, how 7 of the top 10 most followed Twitter users were musicians and that 5 of the 6 most watched YouTube videos of all time are professional music videos. The Wall Street Journal further expanded on this idea in a May 28th story “Why Social Networks Need Musicians.” Today we see even more evidence courtesy of the research firm Nielsen. The company reported that during the month of May – the first month that Nielsen has publicly reported streaming data on thousands of YouTube partners – the top two partner channels on YouTube, representing more than 865 million streams, were both music channels. Yet another barometer and indicator that music is a primary currency of both our culture and commerce.

Jonathan Lamy, EVP, Communications, RIAA