Fri, Jan 14, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Copyright officials voice concern over file-sharing

P2P PROBLEMS Stronger intellectual property laws won praise from visiting recording industry officials, but they urged a crackdown on peer-to-peer file swapping

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives of copyright holders' groups gave Taiwan high marks in protecting intellectual property rights, but voiced concerns over rampant peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing activities.

The delegation of representatives was led by Joe Papovich, senior vice president of the International Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and John Kennedy, the new chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

The two were in Taipei on business and yesterday met with Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) and director-general of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生).

"They appreciated our efforts in improving copyright protection, but urged a further strengthening of measures against online music piracy, which poses a greater threat to the industry than illegal CD copying," Chen told reporters after meeting with officials of the groups.

Chen said the officials were especially concerned about Taiwan's two largest P2P operators, kuro.com.tw (飛行網) and Ezpeer.com.tw, which draw a considerable number of members to swap music files via their platforms, charging low fees, but without having obtained the authorization of major record labels.

The few legal online music distributors, meanwhile, are struggling with a small customer base, Chen said.

Both kuro and Ezpeer were indicted in December 2003 for alleged violations of the Copyright Law (著作權法). The case is still pending at the Taipei District Court.

Jack Lu (盧文祥), deputy director general of the IPO, said the office is drafting a proposal to crush illegal online music swapping in the next three years.

The measures include combining the Internet Crime Squad under the Criminal Investigation Bureau with the IPO's special task force to detect cyber crimes and advocate the legal usage of online music on campuses, Lu said.

As for whether Taiwan can be removed from the US' Special 301 priority watch list, Lu said the result will be seen soon, citing responses from the US Trade Representative (USTR).

The USTR is conducting a non-periodical review of the Special 301 priority watch list. The result is expected by the middle of this month.

"I think we have a big chance to get off the list due to our impressive performance, which has gained recognition from interest groups," Lu said.

Taiwan's piracy rate dropped from 53 percent in 2003 to 43 percent last year, the largest decrease globally, according to statistics of the Business Software Alliance.

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