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China, Russia Top International Piracy List

China and Russia's "lack of political will" put the two countries at the top of a congressional group's 2006 International Piracy Watch List.

Piracy in the two countries, according to the group, cost the U.S. copyright industry $4 billion last year.

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which includes 73 members of Congress, said at a Wednesday Capitol Hill press conference that the "scope and depth" of copyright theft in China and Russia make the two stand out in the international piracy world.

Other countries making the list include Mexico, Canada, India and Malaysia.

"International piracy is just a fancy way to say stealing on an enormous scale," Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) said in a statement.

"Governments have the obligation to crack down on the systematic theft of intellectual property within their borders. Stopping the hemorrhage of U.S. revenue is critical to successful economic relationships with other countries."

The caucus report follows a 2005 report by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) placing China on the United States' Priority Watch List for intellectual property theft.

Beijing joined Russia and 12 other trading partners that Washington says are not effectively protecting or enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR).

"American innovation and creativity need to be protected by our government no less than our personal property, our homes and our streets. Theft of intellectual property is a crime, pure and simple," Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said in the same statement.

"It costs our economy over $15 billion every year and results in over $1 billion of lost tax revenues."

Biden noted the $15 billion could be used to hire an additional 13,000 local police officers to patrol streets or provide interoperable communications equipment for America's 30 largest cities.

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), software piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost manufacturers close to $8 billion in 2004. Worldwide, losses due to software piracy were estimated at more than $32 million. The BSA puts piracy rates in China at 90 percent and Russia at 87 percent.

"A vibrant sector of the U.S. economy is at tremendous risk due to widespread piracy of U.S.-made movies, music, software, videogames and other creative works, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said.

"We must work with our international trade partners to secure the enactment of strong copyright laws and the vigilant enforcement of those laws."

Democrat Adam Schiff said piracy particularly impacts his Southern California district.

"I see first-hand the toll that intellectual property theft takes on our economy," Schiff said. "My district ... is home to many hard-working Americans whose jobs are in the movie and recording industries, the software business and science and engineering. Their work product is being stolen and our entire nation is being put at a comparative economic disadvantage."

Schiff added, "The United States must exercise its influence with Russia, China and other nations to take comprehensive action against global piracy."