Canada, Spain top anti-piracy watch list
By Colin Mann

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus has released its annual watch list, which identifies Canada, China, Russia, Spain and Ukraine as countries where the lack of intellectual property rights poses a threat to the US economy.

“Our trading partners must stop looking the other way when American intellectual property is stolen in plain sight,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, co-chair of the bipartisan, bicameral caucus.

“They must encourage fair economic competition rather than permit online and physical piracy and counterfeiting to flourish within their borders.”

The entertainment, software and publishing industries have lobbied strongly for the government to increase enforcement of copyright laws online. The Obama administration has also responded by seizing domain names that repeatedly link to pirated or counterfeit content. In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would significantly expand the government’s powers to take down domains that provide pirated content.

“Today’s global markets are inseparably connected to the Internet,” said Senator Orrin Hatch. “While it has given consumers more choices with access to more goods and services than ever before, it has also caused online theft to thrive as well. We must come together to combat this threat in a truly systematic and coordinated manner.”

According to the Business Software Alliance, China remains the largest source of software piracy at almost $8 billion in 2010 and a piracy rate of 78 per cent. Canada’s piracy rate was significantly lower, with the watch list calling out the country’s lack of an effective legal framework to combat online piracy.

Russia and Spain are also established sources of concern for the US content industries, though the report acknowledges recent steps taken by Spain to provide procedures for removing infringing content. Ukraine is a new addition to the list thanks to its increasing role as a hub for hosting pirated content on peer-to-peer networks and hosted websites.