US names and shames worst IP protectors

Intellectual property

The US trade representative has singled out those countries it feels aren't pulling their weight in the battle to protect intellectual property rights.

Canada has once again been included in the top bracket of countries that need to do more to protect intellectual property (IP) rights in the US' annual Special 301 report.

The 2010 report names Canada alongside 10 other nations, including Russia and China, in the Priority Watch List of nations the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) feels don't sufficiently guard IP rights or that block US businesses that rely on copyright protection.

"Internet piracy is a significant concern with respect to a number of trading partners, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Italy, Russia, Spain and Ukraine," the report reads. Canada was singled out for having thus far failed to ratify the 1996 WIPO Internet Treaties covering, among other things, DRM laws.

"The United States urges Canada to enact legislation in the near term to update its copyright laws and address the challenge of internet piracy," the report challenges. "Canada should fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, which it signed in 1997.@

It added: "Canada's weak enforcement of intellectual property rights is also of concern, and the United States continues to encourage Canada to improve its IPR enforcement system to provide for deterrent sentences and stronger enforcement powers."

Referring to China, the report highlighted "market access barriers" in the country that created "additional incentives to infringe products such as movies, video games, and books, and lead consumers to the black market, thereby compounding the severe problems already faced by China's enforcement authorities".

The full list of nations on the Priority Watch List are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela, with a further 29 on the less critical Watch List.

Paraguay, meanwhile, was given the Section 306 Monitoring rating, indicating the USTR believes bilateral attention is needed to address the country's underlying IPR problems.

The combined total of 41 countries singled out for criticism is lower than in many previous years, and indeed the USTR praised some countries' efforts to combat piracy. Sweden was praised for developing legal alternatives to peer-to-peer networks like Spotify and Film2Home.