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  • Singapore Urged to Regulate Piracy
  • March 18, 1998 (SINGAPORE) -- Piracy across all segments of the industry has become more prevalent in the Singapore domestic market and in exports, according to a report issued by the International Intellectual Property Alliance.
    In its 1998 annual review of piracy and copyright infringement, the international body urged the U.S. government to place Singapore on its Priority Watch list. If adopted by the U.S. Trade Representative when it submits a report to congress in late April, the move could mean greater scrutiny of Singapore's trade practices.

    "Singapore should adjust its enforcement policies to respond to the greater investigative challenge posed by organized rings engaged in the manufacture and distribution of digital pirate products," said the report.

    In its latest survey, the alliance showed that U.S. copyright owners for motions pictures, music recordings, computer programs and books lost as much as US$124.9 million in 1997, more than double the US$59.1 million in 1996. The private alliance consists of 1,350 copyright owners from the film, music, software and book publishing industries in the United States. It includes most major entertainment, publishing and software companies.

    The alliance showed that the highest level of piracy was seen in computer entertainment programs, with up to 68 percent of all software being pirated, creating losses of about US$58.1 million for U.S. makers. The second biggest category was computer programs for business applications, accounting for losses of US$45.5 million or about 56 percent of piracy in the domestic market, said the alliance.

    The agency said that piracy levels in motion pictures and music recordings were lower at 15 percent and 30 percent, with both accounting for about US$20.3 million in losses for U.S. makers.

    While acknowledging that Singapore had made great strides in combating piracy in the late 1980s, the report said the country is now "ill-equipped to deal with the resurgence of piracy."

    The agency said: "Perhaps, most urgently, tighter regulation of Singapore's optical media production and mastering facilities is needed, lest the huge overcapacity be increasingly devoted to pirate production."

    Singapore, a technological leader in the region, should ratify and implement the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty as soon as possible, said the report.

    In the area of computer piracy, the agency said: "Singapore is in the midst of an epidemic of software piracy. As in many Asian markets, pirate products at retail prices consists increasingly of compilation CD-ROMs that may contain a diverse menu of business and entertainment applications from a number of different copyright owners."

    A stronger regulatory regime, and political will to implement it aggressively are needed if the government is to assert enough control over CD-ROM production facilities to deter, detect and punish pirate production, said the agency.

    Additional legislation is now needed to cure deficiencies which the recent amendments don't adequately address, such as outlawing the traffic in bottled recordings, and to fix some new problems which the amendments have created, said the agency.

    The agency said Singapore made great strides in January this year to enact a comprehensive copyright amendment bill. But more needs to be done to enforce copyrights in Singapore.

    The government needs to address the issue of a compulsory licensing system under which foreign works can be translated and/or reprinted in Singapore consistent with international standards.

    (Joseph Rajendran, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Nikkei BP BizTech, Inc.
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    Updated: Tue Mar 17 16:55:53 1998