Lawmakers blast China, Russia for piracy

Lawmakers on Tuesday singled out foreign governments that they said are allowing rampant digital piracy.

In a report released Tuesday, the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus — formerly the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus — pointed to policies and enforcement practices in China, Russia, India and Switzerland that they said allow for the theft of U.S. intellectual property.

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“All we want is a level playing field where all nations live up to their obligations to protect intellectual property and enforce existing laws,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a co-chairman of the caucus, said in a statement Tuesday.

The caucus is also led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

“While the U.S. is the world’s leader in intellectual property protections, the problem does not stop at our borders,” Goodlatte said in a statement announcing the report.

The report singled out China for its “massive” scale of piracy, “inflicting substantial harm to American and Chinese creators.”

As an example, it pointed to software piracy among government agencies and music piracy.

“Spending on software per computer sold in China remains among the lowest in the world due to wide-scale unlicensed use and the legitimate music market is a fraction of much smaller countries,” the report said.

The report noted “signs of real progress and commitment on the part of the Chinese government” — including cracking down on piracy via social network Baidu and reseller Taobao — but recommended more action in areas including software, film and journal publishing piracy.

For Russia, the report pushed for “serious and large scale action to enforce the law against rogue actors and end their status as a haven for digital piracy.”

The report pointed to “camcording piracy, high levels of unlicensed software use by enterprises and a lack of effective” system to remove online infringing content in India.

It also pointed to a recent court decision in Switzerland making it "virtually impossible" to combat with large-scale piracy on peer-to-peer networks.

Goodlatte warned of costs to the U.S. economy resulting from inadequate protections for copyright holders.

“If we allow people to take that work without paying for it, artists will no longer have any financial incentive to create new movies, software, video games, books and music,” he said.

“The end result is the loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the U.S. each year and even greater losses to our economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports.”

The report also praised steps taken by Italy and the Philippines to reduce piracy.

While both countries “have longstanding issues with the protection of creative works,” the report applauded recent “reforms undertaken and a greater commitment to enforcing the law.”