The U.S. Trade Representative today released its report on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights protection by the country's trading partners.

The Special 301 Report, issued annually, is a policy tool for focusing on urgent problems involving intellectual property rights (IPR). It provides a basis for the U.S. government to engage in discussions with the country's trading partners in order to address challenges like Internet piracy, the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and other counterfeiting activities that threaten the health and safety of consumers.

The report places 45 countries on the Priority Watch List or the Watch List.

On the Priority Watch List are: China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. These countries do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or an adequate level of market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection. The U.S. government will focus the highest level of attention on resolving issues with these countries.

On the Watch List are: Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. These countries will be the focus of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussions with the U.S. government during the coming year.

"The effects of global copyright theft trickle down to every songwriter, whether in lost direct sales of today's hit songs or in lost opportunity for cultivating tomorrow's platinum talent," says David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Assn. "I appreciate the ongoing efforts by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to collect and analyze data, and develop this annual road map for addressing global intellectual property rights and enforcement."

After releasing today's report, the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Susan Schwab, said, "The administration has been committed to stepping up the fight against IPR infringers who seek to profit from American artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. We continue to work with our Chinese and Russian colleagues to ensure that they deliver on their commitments to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement. Our bilateral engagement with China, Russia and other trading partners complement our efforts to enforce our rights through the World Trade Organization. The administration will continue to defend vigorously American innovation."

The report also recognizes trading partners whose efforts to improve protection and enforcement are delivering results. These countries are Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Ukraine, which were downgraded from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List. Belize and Lithuania were removed from the list.

"Today's report provides a very insightful picture of the principal barriers faced by intellectual property owners in global markets," says Neil Turkewitz, executive VP, international, for the RIAA. "If we can turn today's problems into tomorrow's opportunities, we will have succeeded in significantly expanding the U.S. economy and in greatly enhancing the environment for investment in the creative talent of Americans throughout various sectors of our economy."