Thu, Jan 16, 2003 - Page 10 News List

US tells Taiwan to get tough on piracy

REUTERS , BANGKOK

The US yesterday told Taiwan and the Philippines to take tough action against criminal gangs producing illegal copies of Hollywood movies and fake brand-name goods or risk having trade privileges revoked.

William Lash, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for market access and compliance, praised Thailand and Malaysia for positive steps to stamp out piracy, but said there had to be more prosecutions of crimes which were costing US firms billions of dollars.

"You are responsible for your own house," Lash said. "People have to go to jail. There has to be more sentencing, more prosecutions."

Lash said Taiwan and the Philippines, where there were 280 arrests related to piracy last year but no convictions, would remain on Washington's "priority watch list."

"Philippines has a very serious problem," he said. "The government there, depending on what day [it is], either will recognize it or put their heads in the sand like ostriches," Lash said.

"`Priority watch list' is a shot across the bows ... The next step is we take a very serious review towards revoking some or all of your ... special trade benefits. Next stop oblivion."

Lash said American firms lost about US$116 million last year due to intellectual-property-rights violations in the Philippines.

Lash said intellectual-property-rights violations in Thailand cost US firms about US$250 million, but authorities there were working harder to stamp out criminal networks.

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