2024 Special 301 submissions by IPR stakeholders help US Trade Rep target piracy

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In December 2023, the Office of the US Trade Representative launched its 2024 Special 301 Report, an annual review to identify countries “that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property (IP) rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IP protection.”

Through January, the Office collected submissions from intellectual property and industry stakeholders, and in February heard testimony in a public hearing.  The process culminates with the release of the Special 301 report, which is released in April, which provides a snapshot in time of IPR infringement.  About half of the submissions are made by the media and entertainment industry.

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Some commenters provided high-level advice to U.S. policymakers (and to those in other countries who observe the U.S. process), as they formulate and prioritize anti-piracy regulation.  Other commenters gave explicit examples of the extent to which piracy of media content has matured as an industry, which serve to reinforce what those priorities should be.

Piracy Monitor provides several Special 301 Close-ups that describe some of the individual submissions

Other interesting entries came in from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, beIN Media with Miramax Pictures, ABPI – The Brazilian Intellectual Property Association and several others.

Common threads

In addition to requests to monitor the intellectual property activities and violations that they experience in other countries, common themes and encouragements emerged in the comments submitted to the US Trade Representative office by rights owners, the media industry and governmental stakeholders of other countries.

These include:

  • Monitoring for pirated content by content stakeholders and law enforcement authorities to detect and build evidence against copyright infringement
  • Fast-acting site blocking frameworks that can distinguish between legal and illegal instances of content and services
  • Legal and regulatory frameworks that process complaints quickly and work in a consistent manner
  • A philosophy that encourages rules and process, but does not mandate any particular technological solution
  • Collaboration across agencies within a country’s government, and clearly designated and defined communications channels to communicate with governments and stakeholders outside the home country

Another successful example is Brazil, whose Cybernetic Authorities actively work in close cooperation with national and international authorities to combat illicit streaming devices (ISDs) and piracy. A great example of successful operations in this field are “Operação 404” launched in 2019 and coordinated by Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security’s Cybernetic Operations Lab (Ciberlab).

These initiatives are aligned with the objectives and guidelines of a National Intellectual Property Strategy, established by Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry, Trade and Services (MDIC), which aims to promote greater security for the intellectual property environment in that country.

Further reading

Posted Comments. Web site. Docket (USTR-2023-0014). Accessed March 1, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative (Note: This portal links to 87 comments submitted to the US Trade Representative from various intellectual property stakeholders)

2024 Special 301 Report. Web site. Docket (USTR-2023-0014), Accessed March 1, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative

2024 Special 301 Review: Identification of Countries Under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974: Request for Public Comment and Announcement of Public Hearing. Docket (USTR-2023-0014). Press release. December 5, 2023. Office of the US Trade Representative

Why it matters

The USTR’s Special 301 report is one of two annual benchmark reports, which serves as an official recognition of countries and regions that require special attention by rights holders and policymakers.  The other benchmark report is the Notorious Markets report, the 2023 edition of which was released in January 2024.  The 2023 report profiled 39 online markets and 33 countries where substantial trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy is reported.

Together these reports should be required reading for anyone who is unconvinced that piracy is a problem, or who is not fully informed of its extent.

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