Tue, Feb 18, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Premier promises piracy crackdown

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Under increasing pressure from the US, the Cabinet has come up with a series of measures to combat counterfeiting copyrighted material

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday vowed to adopt drastic measures to combat piracy, including raising the reward for tip-offs from NT$1 million to NT$10 million.

"To protect intellectual property rights [IPR] and safeguard the nation's image and interests, we have to take extreme approaches to crack down on the manufacture and export of counterfeit optical media," Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) quoted Yu as saying yesterday afternoon.

"We'd really hate to see the piracy problem sabotage diplomatic relations with foreign countries, especially the US," Yu was quoted as saying.

Yu made the remark after listening to briefings on the government's consultation progress with the US on IPR presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance and Government Information Office.

According to Liu, the US government has expressed its discontent with the government's efforts to combat piracy.

"They're most concerned about the import of counterfeit products because they've caused overwhelming economic losses to local industries," she said.

Although statistics show that the government seized counterfeit products worth an estimated NT$8 billion (about US$200 million) last year, the US still kept Taiwan in its annual Special 301 Priority Watch List and branded it as one of the world's worst protectors of intellectual property rights.

Those named on the Special 301 list could face possible trade sanctions. Taiwan has been put on the watch list for the past four years, though the US has yet to take action against Taiwan.

In addition to requesting the economic ministry present detailed plans on raising the award for tip-offs within a week, Yu asked the finance and interior ministries to form a task force to conduct inspections at customs in a bid to curb the export of counterfeit optical media.

The economics ministry was also asked to strengthen its management of factories that make optical media.

To make existing laws regulating IPR more complete, the economics ministry will amend laws as soon as possible and present draft amendments for review within two weeks.

To make punishment a more effective deterrent, the Cabinet is studying the possibility of increasing fines for piracy by amending the Copyright Law (著作權法).

According to the law, those who illegally duplicate copyrighted products face a jail term of between six months and three years or a fine of up to NT$250,000. Those found making a living by counterfeiting copyrighted products face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

The National Police Administration under the interior ministry will establish an IPR Protection Police Corps by the end of this month.

The National Property Bureau under the finance ministry will assist in finding a suitable location in Taipei for the corps.

The existing 100-strong special police unit that specializes in IPR crimes has been reinforced with an additional 120 law-enforcement officers.

The Government Information Office will be in charge of promoting, in Chinese and English, the government's efforts in combating piracy.

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