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RIAA Outlines Global Copyright Concerns to USTR

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that it has submitted comments to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) outlining the RIAA’s current global copyright concerns.

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Unedited press release follows:

RIAA Submits Report to USTR Outlining Key Global Copyright Concerns
Highlights Spain, Russia, China and Canada for Continuing Lack of IP Protections

WASHINGTON – The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), together with associations representing other sectors of the U.S. copyright industry, who collectively constitute the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), today submitted extensive comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in connection with the “Special 301” provision of U.S. law. Under “Special 301,” USTR is required to identify those countries that deny adequate and effective protection to U.S. intellectual property. A copy of the report is available on IIPA’s website here.

The RIAA issued the following statement by Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International:

“This year’s submission focuses on the devastating impact of Internet piracy on the music sector, and highlights the need to secure legislative, regulatory and enforcement reforms to address a problem that is undermining creative communities around the globe. There are some music markets that have essentially evaporated in the face of government inaction to stem the tide of online theft, perhaps most notably in Spain where the market has decreased by 55 percent over the past five years, and where no new Spanish artist has been capable of breaking into the top 50 for more than two years. Other markets continue to operate in chaotic conditions, including Russia and China which are home to some of the world’s most notorious pirate sites: vKontakte in Russia and Baidu in China. The Mexican market continues to suffer under the weight of piracy, resulting in a situation where there are 45 percent fewer domestic releases than there were five years ago—manifesting that societies suffer cultural costs as well as economic ones when they fail to respond adequately to the challenges of piracy. And the Canadian Government has inexplicably consumed yet another year without modernizing its copyright regime, leaving a legal structure in place that is not adequate to respond to present challenges.

“It is estimated that there are currently 17 percent fewer professional musicians in the United States than there were 10 years ago. While the Internet may offer unparalleled opportunities for musicians to reach global audiences, there are sadly fewer and fewer opportunities for musicians to earn a living from their craft. Luckily, this is not irreversible or the result of immutable natural laws. We can, and must, create an environment that cherishes creativity, and which provides incentives for investment in the creation of original cultural materials. While there are certainly complicated issues at the margins, the path towards a more accountable online space is straightforward—governments must provide no safe harbors for those who would intentionally profit from the distribution of the creative works of others. There is no place in a responsible cultural ecosystem for companies like Baidu and vKontakte to operate dedicated music services without obtaining licenses from the creators. There is no place for providing services designed to facilitate music theft. And there is certainly no place for allowing enterprises to be built on the back of illegal content, and then to only require them to take down such content when they are notified by the copyright owner. ‘Catch me if you can’ is not a recipe for sustaining American creativity.

“There are encouraging signs of an emerging consciousness on the part of policymakers that the status quo is not working, and that governments need to be actively engaged to ensure greater accountability in the Internet environment. After years of inaction, the Spanish Government appears close to taking an important first step to rein in online lawlessness, and in Italy, measures are under consideration which would likely give that embattled market an important boost. From Europe to Asia to Latin America, governments are coming to understand that the social, economic and cultural costs of piracy are too great for societies to bear, and that action is needed before investment in original cultural materials completely dries up. We hope that governments will move quickly to adopt the reforms and actions outlined in our report, and to thereby fuel a net-based cultural renaissance.”

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.