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RIAA replies to John Gilmore on Ukraine: Don't cheer piracy!

Previous messages:

"John Gilmore on Ukraine doing the right thing, fighting RIAA"

"U.S. says Ukraine turns blind eye to piracy, levies tariffs"

Jano tells me this response is from Neil Turkewitz, Sr. VP for 
International Relations at the RIAA.



From: JCabrera@riaa.com
To: declan@well.com
Message-ID: <OFFFAC57DD.D50756A5-ON85256B36.007B17CB@riaa.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 17:26:29 -0500

I just read John Gilmore's e-mail concerning the imposition of US sanctions
on Ukraine for its failure to adequately protect intellectual property, and
thought that I would spend a few minutes to provide the real story for
anyone who is interested.

First of all, it is absolutely true that the US has imposed economic
sanctions on Ukraine as a consequence of its failure to deal with CD
piracy. In doing so, the Administration faithfully implemented the
directions that it was given by Congress under the statute known as
"Special 301" under which Congress directed the Administration to impose
such sanctions on countries that fail to adequately and effectively protect
intellectual property. Now of course, Mr. Gilmore did not have this
completely correct. Gilmore suggests that sanctions were imposed because
the Ukrainians failed to adopt an "optical media licensing regime." The
reality is that while the vote on this licensing regime may have been the
final act precipitating the introduction of sanctions, the sanctions were
not introduced because of the Rada's rejection of the bill, but because the
Government of Ukraine had violated nearly every provision of a US-Ukraine
agreement reached in June of 2000 under which it committed to take a number
of steps to address runaway pirate production.

The proposed optical media licensing regime was a critical part of the
infrastructure without which efforts to address piracy would surely fail,
and the failure of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) to pass it had much more
to do with the influence exerted by the pirates than it did with the notion
of freedom fighting. Gilmore's support for the supposed courage of those
who rejected this legislation is greatly misplaced, and mistakes corruption
and influence for vision and bravery.  Unchecked pirate production in
Ukraine puts money in the pockets of organized criminal syndicates, and
severely undermines the position of Ukrainian and foreign authors,
performers, composers and record companies. More fundamentally, piracy
undermines Ukraine's economic future and its ability to attract investment
and to compete in the global economy. It is my sense that this is nothing
to cheer about. If Gilmore did his homework, he would know that organized
crime, corruption and bribery are some of the principal impediments to
economic and social development in much of Eastern Europe, the CIS and
Russia. If Gilmore truly wants to promote the overthrow of oppression, he
should support measures designed to introduce the rule of law and to create
a fair playing field where the old guard is not in control. Sadly, he
laments such measures.

The proposed regulations are entirely content neutral and are based on a
single practical observation--CD plants that are manufacturing pirate
copies are unlikely to want to have their names appear on the discs that
they manufacture. By requiring manufacturers to place a unique identifier
on all discs that they press, and adopting mechanisms to ensure compliance,
countries can effectively create deterrents to pirate production. For most
countries, this is a far more attractive solution than trying to deal with
piracy after product has already been manufactured, and involves far less
government expenditure, surveillance, and other intrusions into private
spaces. Gilmore should support initiatives such as the optical media
licensing law that are aimed at stopping piracy in relatively public (or at
least commercial) settings like CD plants.

Gilmore calls this proposed legislation "just another smokescreen for the
music mafia." Little did he realize how true these words were, for indeed
opposition to content neutral legislation that would have helped Ukraine to
address piracy was indeed the work of the "music mafia," but not in the
sense that Gilmore intended.

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