On May, 2nd,2011 the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) posted on its website (http://www.ustr.gov/) the annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights, protection and enforcement, aka “2011 Special 301 Report”.
The report presents an analysis conducted on a country-by-country basis, and takes into consideration several issues, such as the commitments protecting IP rights, and concerns of the interested parties.
The report examines 77 countries, divided into two categories: the priority watch list and a regular watch list.
The first category covers those countries which are severely affected by piracy: China, a country that keeps its role of being the biggest source of damages to US industries; Russia, because of its problems with piracy and with law enforcement over the Internet; Canada that failed to issue the long-awaited copyright legislation. This category includes the countries which are the most affected by piracy, the biggest producers of counterfeit goods and have a legal system with evident lack of implementation of anti-piracy laws.
The second category includes those countries that need to build and strengthen fences against digital piracy and counterfeit goods on one hand, and to issue more effective rules on intellectual property rights on the other. It includes many countries of Africa and Asia, but also Italy, Spain, Greece and Norway.
Italy not only remains on the Watch List, but it is even the subject of this year Out-of-Cycle review. This is the USTR approach to “encourage” a country to achieve a major progress on Intellectual Property rights, by suggesting possible solutions to the greatest concerns. The Out-of-Cycle review also grants a greater engagement of the US government to provide for a remedy to such issues, in order to help the country be deleted from the watch list.
The USTR report states that Italy continued to make progresses on IP rights protection and law enforcement in 2010, but those efforts are not considered adequate, since electronic piracy keeps raising and consequently, infringing US companies rights.
The US governments also appreciated the recent measures against e-piracy. In fact, recently, Italian courts blocked the access to several websites allegedly infringing copyright, such as Pirate Bay and, more recently, BTJunkie.
The report also states that the Office of the United States Trade Representative had the chance to propose new regulations to AGCOM, the Italian Communications Authority, and it expects new and more effective regulations against e-piracy. Many bloggers connected US expectations from AGCOM with the recent change of chair in the authority: Nicola D’Angelo, commissioner and supporter of net neutrality, has been replaced as rapporteur of an upcoming regulation on copyright.
The report also states that Italy still has to face several issues, such as “a troubling Data Protection Agency ruling prohibiting the monitoring of peer-to-peer networks”. In fact, since the so called Peppermint judgment, the Italian Data Protection Agency stated that IP addresses are qualified as personal data, and for this reason the IP rights holders are prevented from collecting those data through peer to peer networks in order to track the author of the infringement.
To take a look to the rest of the countries included in the annual review, at this link you can find a copy of the 2011 Special 301 Report.