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Copyright violations stunt growth, group says.

Summary: BEIRUT: The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an organization representing more than 1,900 companies that produce and distribute copyright-protected materials throughout the world, has asked the United States Trade Representative to keep Lebanon on the Watch List for serious infringements of intellectual property rights and severe copyright problems

BEIRUT: The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an organization representing more than 1,900 companies that produce and distribute copyright-protected materials throughout the world, has asked the United States Trade Representative to keep Lebanon on the Watch List for serious infringements of intellectual property rights and severe copyright problems.

The alliance's request is part of its overall recommendations to the U.S. authorities in the annual "Special 301" review of copyright piracy and market access problems in 40 countries, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.

Lebanon is one of 19 countries recommended for the Watch List that includes Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey.

The IIPA stated that piracy remains a significant obstacle to legitimate business in Lebanon despite the authorities' incremental progress in fighting piracy, and added that piracy challenges remained largely unchanged in 2010.

It cited problems such as end-user piracy of business software that continues to cause enormous losses to software companies; book piracy in the form of illegal photocopying on and around university campuses; retail piracy of all kinds of copyright materials such as movies, music and entertainment software; cable and pay TV piracy; growing Internet-based and mobile device piracy; hard-disk loading of software onto computers at points of sale; and the sale of circumvention devices such as pay TV decoders.

It indicated that the level of software piracy in Lebanon was at 72 percent in 2010, and that software piracy-related losses totaled $28 million last year.

The report added that Lebanese courts continue to be a weak in enforcing intellectual property rights, as court processes, from prosecutorial preparation to judicial process, do not deter further infringements or provide adequate compensation against piracy.

It added that prosecutors do not take action without complaints from rights holders and do not employ tools that would strengthen their work. In parallel, it noted that enforcement cooperation is good between the private sector and the Ministry of Interior's Cyber Crime and Intellectual Property Rights Bureau Unit, as the latter has provided raid support upon request.

It noted that copyrights are important to Lebanon's economy and would contribute even more to the economy if intellectual property rights were more effectively enforced. The group said it is important for Lebanon to establish the proper legal framework for copyright protection and fully implement the laws to reduce piracy and foster growth in the country's creative sectors.

The IIPA noted that the Lebanese government has been working on amendments to its 1999 Copyright Law and related laws in order to implement the relevant international treaties related to its accession to the World Trade Organization. It said the current law provides a sound basis for IPR protection, but includes several deficiencies that must be addressed. -- The Daily Star

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Mar 15, 2011
Words:526
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