Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Economics minister sets new target for cutting IPR piracy

CRACKING DOWN Ho Mei-yueh said customs agents will get more power and penalties will be increased when the Copyright Law is revised

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government has renewed its vow to protect intellectual property rights [IPR], as the effort is essential to bolster Taiwan's future economic development, Min-ister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said yesterday.

"We want to reduce the piracy rates to under 40 percent by the end of next year," Ho told the Taipei Times on the sidelines of a joint press conference on IPR.

"We are considering making Internet piracy a case of IPR infringement, giving customs officials confiscation powers and clearly stipulating the minimum punishment of a criminal charge into our future revision of the Copyright Law (著作權法)," Ho said.

Taiwan had a music piracy rate of 42 percent last year, down from 47 percent in 2002, according to figures provided by the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

The software piracy rate was 43 percent last year, down from around 51 percent two years ago, according to statistics released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) last month.

The nation's efforts so far have paid off, Ho said, noting that the value of counterfeit goods from Taiwan seized by the US Customs Service fell to just US$610,000 last year from US$26.5 million in 2002.

The Ministry of Interior is scheduled to set up a 315-member police force in October that will specialize in detecting and arresting piracy rings, said Minister of the Interior Su Jia-Chyuan (蘇嘉全) who also attended the meeting.

Vice Minister of Justice Yeh Da-ho (顏大和) said that specialized prosecutors will be organized nationwide to handle IPR infringement cases and the ministry will offer special training courses on technology-related laws.

The government has tried to increase the punishments as well, Yen said. The result was that the number of IPR violators sentenced to less than six months in prison has declined to around 57 percent of total piracy cases this year from 64 percent in 2002, he added.

Several IPR groups said they are pleased about the govern-ment's resolution to attack the crime and they expressed hope that the enforcement will prove to be as strong as the resolve.

"Rampant piracy has been hurting the nation's software sector for years, causing a loss of NT$4.9 billion last year alone," said Sung Hong-ti (宋紅媞), co-chair of BSA's Taiwan Committee.

Taiwan should spare no efforts in IPR protection, especially as the government is boosting the nation's digital content industry right now, Sung said.

Foreign businesses welcomed the government's determination, saying that the gestures may help Taiwan to get off the US' "Special 301" priority watch list.

We expect the passing of the latest amendment to the Copyright Law will help reinforce the attack on piracy, said John Eastwood, co-chair of IPR committee at the European Chamber of Commerce.

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