The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes two authoritative annual reports with a focus on intellectual property rights and piracy: the annual “Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy” and the “Special 301 Report,” which is the result of an annual review of the state of IP protection and enforcement with U.S. trading partners around the world.
2020 Special 301 Report
Released on April 25, the 2020 edition of the “Special 301 Report” identifies 36 countries that the USTR says do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights. Of these 36, ten have been given special priority.
All but one of these ten priority countries (and several others) are identified as having ongoing online and broadcast copyright enforcement issues. Illicit streaming devices and illegal web sites operate in those countries as well.
Saudi Arabia is one of the ten “priority” countries. However, BeoutQ, the notorious online and satellite piracy service that was reportedly operating out of Saudi Arabia, “was taken offline in August 2019, and the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has since raided stores selling illicit streaming devices and conducted IP awareness campaigns to combat online piracy,” according to the report.
2019 Notorious Markets report
The USTR’s 2019 Notorious Markets List was released in Q4 of 2019. It “highlights free trade zones and the role they may play in facilitating trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. It also continues to discuss emerging piracy models, including illicit streaming devices, “stream-ripping,” and piracy portals and apps, that cause major damage to the digital marketplace for legitimate music, movies, and television.”
Why they matter
The Office of the US Trade Representative is an important player in the recognition of rights infringement worldwide.
Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. §2411) is a statutory framework under which the “US imposes sanctions on foreign countries that violate US trade agreements” (CRS Reports). Traditionally the USTR has acted through the WTO but the Trump administration has been “willing to act unilaterally.”
During the public comment period for the 2019 Notorious Markets Report, 32 comments were submitted and are available for public viewing on the USTR Web site. Some formal research reports are accessible within the comments submitted by the Motion Picture Association, the Asia Video Industry Association, The Digital Citizens Alliance, and others.