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Trade Rep's Annual Report Includes Notable Progress
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman released the 2014 Special 301 Report on April 30, ranking national trading partners based on the inadequacy of their protection for intellectual property. This year's priority watch list comprises 10 countries — Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela — but there is also good news. "I would like to congratulate the governments of Italy and the Philippines on their removal from the watch list," said Froman. "Today we acknowledge their accomplishments and encourage them to continue their progress. ... Likewise, we congratulate Israel on its removal from the watch list earlier this year." The most interesting strategic move was including India on the priority watch list and planning an out-of-cycle review for the country this fall. Two challenges are India's plans for compulsory licensing of some pharmaceutical patents and a current national election. India has an impressive expanding economy and a rich creative sector, but also suffers from what Froman described in a blog as "deterioration in India's environment for IP protection and enforcement." India could have qualified for worse treatment but the goal was engagement, and preliminary indications are that the strategy has paid off. On May 1 India's Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, who expects to meet with Froman in June or July, praised his approach and said, "They know very well that India is in transition." The IIPA, MPAA and RIAA expressed their appreciation for this year's report. RIAA Executive Vice President of International Neil Turkewitz said, "These efforts are a fundamental part of maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness, job creation and realizing the potential of global digital commerce to enhance societal well-being, creativity and innovation."
Digital Rights Action In Brazil
On April 23–24 participants from 97 countries collaborated at the NETmundial conference held in Sao Paulo, producing a multistakeholder statement meant to influence future conversations on Internet governance. Kicking off the event, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff signed an Internet bill of rights into law for her country titled the Marco Civil. Brazil's MPAA representative appreciated being part of the action. Evaluating both the Marco Civil and the conference's outcome, on April 28 Turkewitz blogged that the metaphorical glass could be seen as half full. He wrote, "While I don't endorse the NETmundial statement, primarily given its failure to adequately reflect the importance of fundamental human rights in connection with the creation of original works, it is nonetheless encouraging to witness the maturation of debates in which answers will be found in nuance and not absolutes." In other words, it could have been worse, especially since many view the action in Brazil as a historic first step. Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the digital agenda, said, "NETmundial has put us on the right track. ... I will continue to push all parties in the coming months ... to deliver on the concrete actions identified."
ASCAP Expo Call To Action
ASCAP held its annual "I Create Music" Expo, unveiling its new Music Advocacy Project and making a call for united pressure on Congress. Recent GRAMMY winner and ASCAP President/Chairman Paul Williams said, "We need a long-term solution that works better for the music industry as a whole. The future of songwriting — and perhaps, the future of music — depends on us working together to fix these problems. We know this. And we know that, right now, change is within our reach." Some observers heard a distinct echo of Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow's April 2 call for "MusicBus" omnibus legislation at The Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill event as well as in a subsequent Roll Call editorial. Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Tom Marino (R-Pa.) also participated in a panel at the event, encouraging attendees to support H.R. 4079, the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014, and to make their voices heard. "Advocacy is of the utmost importance," said Marino. "We have talent in my district, where there are as many cows as there are people. I can only imagine the talent that exists all across America."
World Intellectual Property Day At The Movies
On April 26 the World Intellectual Property Organization celebrated World Intellectual Property Day with hundreds of events held in dozens of countries. This year's theme was "Movies — A Global Passion." "Think about the digital challenge which the Internet presents for film," said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. I believe it is the responsibility not just of policymakers but of each of us to consider this challenge, and to ask ourselves: How can we take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to democratize culture and to make creative works available at the click of a mouse, while, at the same time, ensuring that the creators can keep on creating, earning their living and making the films that so enrich our lives?"
The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.
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