The Office of the United States Trade Representative says it will consider removing Taiwan from an intellectual-property rights watch list pending an out-of-cycle review that will be completed this summer.

In its 2008 "Special 301" report, released April 25, the USTR urged Taiwan to continue efforts to establish an IP division in the Special Prosecutor's Office and to bone up on a previously-drafted action plan designed to curtail music piracy on campuses.

In 2007, Taiwan took several steps improve IPR protections, passing new peer-to-peer legislation and committing to building a new IPR court. Authorities raided unauthorized music-download site Foxy, as well as the Kupeer and Hip2p P2P networks. But Taiwan's biggest ISP, the Education Ministry's TANet, continues to irritate music industry representatives who report to USTR.

TANet was originally created to allow university students and faculty to exchange education-related information. But according to the IFPI, many of the system's four million users -- mostly students -- are taking advantage of massive storage space and lax restrictions to exchange music files, movies and other copyrighted material.

"Police and prosecutors are reluctant to conduct raids because this activity is taking place on school campuses," says IFPI Taiwan CEO Robin Lee. "Meanwhile, Taiwanese are paying tax dollars to support this system, which students use to steal music."

The ministry has so far maintained a hands-off approach, citing a policy that grants each campus freedom to manage its own affairs. Some campuses have installed bandwidth limiters that kick in when a user starts a large file transfer, but they can be bypassed by logging in off-campus. Other campuses have failed to implement any restrictions at all.

"Who can control it? Only the universities. Only the Ministry of Education," says Lee. "That is why we are so angry."

In order to get off the watch list, USTR says Taiwan must clean up TANet and address other outstanding IPR issues unrelated to music.

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