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Bush Points a Gun at International Piracy. Is it a Waste of Time?
By Darren Ratner
(more articles from this author)
2001-05-09
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With the RIAA licking certain wounds, it stands to reason that they look to take the "kick me" sign off their back. So the annual "Special 301" review was more than likely a chance to band-aid scratches that continue to bleed.

The Bush administration was commended by the RIAA this week for their efforts in putting a halt to copyright protection and music piracy. Each year a "Special 301" review, a provision of U. S. trade law, is conducted to weed out countries that fail to provide premium protection of U.S. property - in this case, the property being compact discs. Leading the counterfeit swashbucklers is Ukraine, followed by other countries such as Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia. RIAA Executive Vice President, Neil Turkewitz, said that continuous disregard for piracy restrictions may lead to a walking of the plank.

"The RIAA applauds the Administration for taking this line with Ukraine," said Turkewitz. "Unless they radically reform their practices to meet commitments made under the US-Ukraine Agreement... they are almost certain to meet with trade sanctions."

Did I almost forget the kicker? "This may also all but eliminate any possibility for Ukraine to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the near term." Ouch.

A "Priority Watch List" was eventually created to keep countries like these under a close eye. Even larger areas such as Russia and Brazil have added their own lack of cooperation. Russia, in particular, had over 655,000 pirate videocassettes and 171,000 illegal CD-ROMS snatched by the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization in 2000.

Jack Valenti, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, commented on Russia's red hands. "Russia's pirate operation is managed largely by organized crime," he said. "The burden of stopping such theft rests largely on the will of the Russian Government. I am hopeful Russia will maintain a course of progress."

But while zooming in on international theft, the U.S. itself is no stranger to the illegal distribution of pirate CD's. Almost any urban dweller is familiar with the guy on the corner selling a burned copy of that Backstreet Boys CD. Don't lie - you know you bought it.

An April 26th arrest of four members of a piracy group, where over 17,000 CD-R's were found in their possession, took place in New York City. They were all charged with "Trademark Counterfeiting and Failure to Disclose the Origin of a Recording."

Frank Creighton, RIAA Senior Vice President and Director of Anti-Piracy, had strong words: "As the street vendor season kicks into high gear, it is imperative that we step up our efforts in eliminating distribution sources such as these where street vendors go to obtain their illicit product."

So here's a question: Did he or she waste time talking to international piracy lords or did he/she find copies in the States? With the scorching progress of CD burners and MP3's, it becomes slightly difficult to dry the tears of the industry. The intentions are there, but average American CD burner owners (kids and adults) are running the biggest pirate organization of all. More and more CD's are being copied, handed out or sold every day. And who can stop it? Technological powerhouses such as Sony and Panasonic are gitty at the thought of music lovers spending their Mr. Washingtons on equipment that could metamorphose the music world. You can buy burners separately and you can get them with your computer. It seems illogical that big business corporations believe the idea of marketing those copied CD's to your friends, to second hand stores or that $5 guy on the corner can't really surface.

To be honest, people care about album piracy as much as they do those ridiculous FBI warnings on videocassettes. The effort against illegal CD duplication seems to have the lifeless affect of a Poison/Warrant tour. The government may be able to damper the hope of larger piracy organizations, but they should worry more about the little things happening in the homeland rather than overseas. Copying and selling illegally recorded music is happening in our backyard. Who knows - maybe Dubaya and his administration will come out from under the rock and roll into a sharper state of mind. Yeah, right.

Linkography

MPAA - www.mpaa.org
RIAA - www.riaa.com
WTO - www.wto.org


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