U.S. government officials announced plans June 8 to join forces with their counterparts from the 25-nation European Union to fight piracy and counterfeiting in DVDs, CDs and other audiovisual products


BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- U.S. government officials announced plans June 8 to join forces with their counterparts from the 25-nation European Union to fight piracy and counterfeiting in DVDs, CDs and other audiovisual products.

Officials from seven U.S. government agencies said after meeting officials from the European Commission -- the EU's executive body -- that they would work together on an ambitious program to boost cooperation among customs authorities, involve businesses more in the global anti-piracy efforts and to educate the public about counterfeiting.

The officials' visit to Brussels is part of the Bush administration's Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy, or STOP! initiative. Led by acting assistant U.S. Trade Representative Victoria Espinel, the delegation received broad support for plans to simplify brand registration, improve brand protection in overseas markets and develop consistent intellectual property policy.

"The U.S., the EU member states and the European Commission recognize that we can't do this alone, that we need to work together," Espinel said at a news conference.

The delegation also discussed efforts to eliminate the criminal networks that traffic in fakes, counterfeits and bogus goods. Interpol estimates that 6%-9% of global trade products are counterfeit and says many of the groups involved in the trade are criminal gangs.

The delegation included members from the Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. They met with European Commission counterparts from the directorate generals dealing with trade, external relations, internal market, taxation and customs.

One of the areas where cooperation is expected is in recognizing fakes at the customs point. This is especially important in the movie, music and computer-software businesses, where the novelty of many works is such that they have yet to be registered.

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection already has proposed regulations to allow U.S. copyrights for sound recordings and motion pictures, or similar audiovisual works, to be recorded with the CBP while copyright registration is pending. The early recording will provide CBP with the information it needs to prevent the importation of pirate goods into the U.S. Similar measures are being suggested for the EU's authorities.

The Brussels meetings also have resulted in commitments from both the U.S. and the EU authorities to work together to help businesses secure their trademarks, patents and copyrights overseas -- both in individual countries and in multiple countries through international treaties.

Another move is to use the analytical tools applied by customs authorities to make freight-security checks and apply them to intellectual property.