U.S. presses China on 'rampant' online piracy

The Obama administration is pushing China to do more to prevent online piracy of software and copyrighted content.

China needs to make “critical changes” to its intellectual property legal framework, the U.S. Trade Representative wrote this week in its annual report to Congress about China’s fulfillment of trade obligations.

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Despite the country’s previous attempts to clamp down on intellectual property theft, “counterfeiting and piracy remain at unacceptably high levels and continue to cause serious harm to U.S. businesses across many sectors of the economy,” the report said.

The country faces “rampant piracy online, which is increasingly becoming the predominant mechanism for copyright piracy,” the report said.

The report cited the examples of illegal music downloads, which “account for an estimated 99 percent of all music downloads in China,” and websites that allow users to stream pirated content, which “have become the preferred method in China to watch illegal content.”

The report criticized China for its “poor [intellectual property rights] enforcement record,” including in the areas of software piracy and online infringement, as well as trade secret theft.

“One major weakness is China’s chronic underutilization of deterrent criminal remedies,” the report said.

The U.S. will continue to work with China to address these intellectual property theft concerns, the report said, but the administration is “prepared to take other types of action on these issues” — such as dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization — “when bilateral discussions fail to resolve key issues.”