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US in Bollywood piracy probe, China copyright summit

The US Chamber of Commerce is to launch a probe into counterfeiting in India's film industry and hold a global summit in bootleg capital China to highlight intellectual property rights abuses.

The world's two most populous nations are already on the "priority watchlist" of the US Trade Representative office's annual report of measures taken by countries around the world to protect intellectual property rights.

The US Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2007 business strategy last week with a multi-million dollar programme to fight copyright piracy which it says costs the US economy up to $250 billion and 750,000 American jobs every year.

Chamber chief Thomas Donohue said the three-pronged programme of education, detection and enforcement would include "a study in India to measure the effects of piracy on Bollywood," the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based, Hindi language film industry. The Indian movie industry, which churns out about 1,000 films per year, is the largest by volume in the world but revenues are very small.

A key problem facing Bollywood is copyright infringement through the illegal sale of VCD, DVD and videotape movie copies as well as online piracy, all of which are expected to be covered by the US business group's study in the first half of 2007.

Movies from India are the top-grossing foreign film category in the United States, with annual revenue estimated at $1.5 billion, according to TitleMatch Entertainment Group, subsidiary of a US provider of DVD on-demand systems.

Turnover for Bollywood particularly is expected to grow 16 percent annually over the next five years – bringing the market to over three billion dollars, it said. In addition, Hindi film distributors are marketing aggressively their movies in the US digital-cable services, industry reports say.

In China, the US Chamber of Commerce will hold a world summit in March on intellectual property (IP) and innovation while partnering with Interpol to establish a "global IP database," Donohue said.

This is the first time the chamber is working with the Chinese government to hold a world gathering to protect intellectual property, a chamber official said.

The study will look at China's enforcement system as it is applied by the local authorities to problems US industries confront, ranging from retail piracy and counterfeiting in major cities to manufacturing in key industrial areas, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said recently.

Beijing agreed early last year to take action against specific factories producing illegal optical disks and pledged to step up efforts in combating copyright piracy of films, music and software.

Schwab warned that the US "will not hesitate" to take action against China at the World Trade Organization if trade disputes cannot be resolved through bilateral negotiations. (Source: HaveeruOnline)

Story filed 08.01.07

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