The European Commission said April 22 that it has launched a major survey on copyright and piracy among the European Union's trading partners in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.


BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The European Commission said April 22 that it has launched a major survey on copyright and piracy among the European Union's trading partners in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The responses -- from companies, associations, chambers of commerce and others -- will feed into a new enforcement of copyright by EU authorities.

The survey is being prepared by the trade services of the EC -- the EU's executive authority -- and could herald a more robust approach to piracy and counterfeiting. Officials said this might mean launching suits in the World Trade Organization against countries with lax rules on copying.

The survey will identify priority countries where enforcement actions should be concentrated. The EC's response is expected to stress technical cooperation and assistance to help non-EU countries fight counterfeiting, but the commission has also threatened to trigger all bilateral and multilateral sanction mechanisms against any country involved in systematic violations.

The commission has also pledged to help raise the awareness of users and consumers in non-EU countries and support the creation of public/private partnerships for enforcement.

The move follows the commission's strategy paper on enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR), published last November. That report was an action plan aimed at slashing the level of counterfeiting and piracy across EU borders, in particular in countries where it has reached troubling proportions and is seriously harming EU rights holders.

An agreement on intellectual property rights by the 148-member WTO sets a single, comprehensive, multilateral set of rules and includes detailed rules on minimum standards of IPR enforcement. The commission says that although most WTO members have adopted legislation implementing such minimum standards, the levels of piracy and counterfeiting continue to rise every year.

The commission has already provisionally identified several errant countries engaged in the piracy of music, movie, business and game software in CD, DVD and VCD format. These include Thailand, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia.

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