US, Europe, Japan plan anti-piracy agreement

Washington, October 24:

The United States, European Union and Japan are pursuing a 34-country agreement targeting worldwide piracy of copyrighted goods and counterfeiting.

The agreement, which has been pursued for more than a year outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) framework, represents a major step in the fight against theft of intellectual property rights, said US trade representative Susan Schwab at a press conference in Capitol Hill yesterday.

She was joined by the ambassadors from key US trade partners — the European Union, which represents 27 countries; Canada; Japan; Korea; Mexico; New Zealand and Switzerland. Members of the Congress also attended the announcement.

“Global counterfeiting and piracy steal billions of dollars from workers, artists and entrepreneurs each year and jeopardise the health and safety of citizens across the world,” Schwab said.

Notably absent from the group were China and Russia, which the United States has charged are major centres for piracy and distribution.

The US film industry alone loses more than $6 billion a year to piracy, Bloomberg financial news service reported. Publishing houses, computer game makers and music companies have similar complaints.

Schwab emphasised that the new deal would not involve any changes in the TRIPS agreement under the WTO that governs a wide range of copyright law including patent medicines. “The goal is to set a new, higher benchmark for enforcement that countries can join on a voluntary basis,” Schwab said.