U.S. Gov't Creates 'Priority' List of Piracy-Ridden Countries

Anne Winter
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has targeted 12 nations, including China, Russia and Thailand, that have proven ineffective in protecting American copyrighted material from piracy, creating a "priority watch list."

This was a result of an annual Congressional requirement that the administration highlight piracy problems faced by the music, film and other industries face. Billions of dollars are lost each year from piracy, and this watch list could lead to prosecution of copyright piracy cases by the World Trade Organization.

Thirty-one other countries are featured on a lower-level watch list that will also reportedly be monitored by the administration.

Larry Schwartz of Red Light District told XBIZ that any step made by the government toward fighting piracy is better than no step at all. He said Red Light has been involved in several piracy suits, both national and international, and that piracy has been a general problem for the company for years.

Stuart Wall of Smash Pictures told XBIZ that the company was hit the hardest by piracy in Thailand, after a trip to the country for a film shoot led to finding hundreds of Smash Pictures/Evil Angel DVDs packaged in cheap plastic sleeves sold for $2 each.

Keith Webb of Titan Media, who claimed in February to have lost $30 million to piracy in 2006, told XBIZ he "laughed a little bit" when he read about the administration's watch list. Webb said adult won't benefit from the government's piracy fight and, if anything, adult could be hurt by it.

"If pirates know they can get in trouble for copying [mainstream content], they're going to go for the stuff they can get away with — adult," Webb said.

Webb said he still is pushing the industry to form an antipiracy trade organization similar to Australia's AICO to fight piracy in a more effective manner.