U.S. Seeks International Cooperation on Content Piracy

Trade Representative Schwab to Seek Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Hollywood praised the news that the United States government is teaming up with some of its trading partners to launch a new initiative to combat intellectual-property piracy, which includes the offshore theft of TV shows and movies.

U.S. trade representative Susan Schwab said she will seek an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to help crack down on the billions of dollars stolen from artists and entrepreneurs.

The United States is currently in talks with Canada and the 27 member states of the European Union, as well as Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland.

"Moving enforcement standards from statutory law into practical and specific mechanisms to strengthen enforcement is a key next step in the process of improving IPR protection on a global basis," said a spokesman for the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which includes the Motion Picture Association of America. "We hope and expect that an eventual agreement will contain strong, practical provisions that can then be adopted by other countries.”

"Counterfeiting and piracy endanger the lives and livelihood of millions around the world, said NBC in a statement. The company has been one of the strongest voices on protecting intellectual property. "We applaud the Office of the USTR and Ambassador Schwab for their leadership in advancing an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement to meet head on the global pandemic of intellectual property theft.  Addressing this grave threat to economic security and public safety requires all countries to step up their efforts within their borders and to cooperate with other nations to combat international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods.  The proposed trade agreement is a critical first step." 

Schwab's goal is to set a "higher benchmark" for intellectual-property protection that countries can sign on to voluntarily, a sort of Kyoto Protocol for piracy. The ACTA will comprise tougher laws, increased enforcement and more international cooperation, Schwab said.

The Department of Justice joined the fray through its STOP! Initiative, launched in 2004, but anti-piracy groups have been pushing it to do more.