APEC proposal to turn piracy fight on disc production

A report due to be presented to national leaders attending the APEC Thailand 2003 summit in Bangkok this week proposes strengthening regulation of optical disc production facilities as a way of reducing piracy.

The report, "Effective Practices for Regulation of Optical Disc Production," was prepared by an APEC intellectual property rights working group and proposes a number of measures through which its authors believe disc piracy can be prevented before it happens. At present many legal actions against disc pirates occur after discs have been produced and, in some cases, after they have been sold.

The proposals in the report attempt to lay an audit trail that is intended to deter legitimate disc production and duplication facilities from producing pirate copies of optical discs, according to a statement from APEC. This is done by requiring all disc producers to be licensed or otherwise approved by authorities, to keep production records and to add an identification code to each disc produced.

Specifically, it lays out several key offenses:

- The manufacturing or duplicating of discs or production parts without or contrary to a license or registration;

- Exporting discs, or importing/exporting production parts, raw materials or machinery without or contrary to a license or registration;

- Forging license documents;

- Manufacturing or producing discs at a place other than the licensed or registered premises;

- Failing to apply the required allocated identification code to discs produced.

The report, which was approved last week by senior officials from APEC governments, will be presented to leaders for endorsement during the two-day summit that begins in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday. A public copy of the report will be made available on Tuesday after its approval, said APEC.

In holding their summit in Thailand, APEC leaders are in a nation where optical disc production capacity exceeds legitimate demand by ten times, according to the latest global piracy study from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). A similar picture of oversupply is seen in several APEC economies including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to the report.

Computer software is also rife in the region, according to the latest piracy report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Thailand ranked ninth in its national piracy rating after BSA estimated around 77 percent of software in use in 2002 was pirated. Four other APEC nations, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Russia, are placed above Thailand in the ranking with estimated piracy rates in 2002 of 95 percent, 92 percent, 89 percent and 89 percent respectively.

The 21 member economies of APEC are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and Vietnam.

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Martyn Williams

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