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19 March 2010

Indonesia upset by US putting it back on watch list

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The United States has once again put Indonesia into its Priority Watch List of countries with rampant copyright infringement, despite claims by the government in Jakarta of progress on that front, reported the Jakarta Post.

Eleven other countries are included on the list, such as China, India, Thailand and the Philippines.

The Indonesian government has called for the country to be struck off the list, citing its efforts to uphold intellectual property rights (IPRs).

“We sent a submission to the US [in February] telling them that we’ve been trying to eradicate all violations of IPRs,” Gusmardi Bustami, the Trade Ministry’s director general for international trade cooperation, said Thursday on the sidelines of an international trade forum held by state lender Bank Mandiri.

He said police had raided stalls selling pirated music, movies and software, among other pirated items, including in Glodok, Central Jakarta.

Glodok is notorious for its wealth of pirated CDs and DVDs. “Many of [the cases] have been brought to court,” Gusmardi said. “We’re serious about eradicating IPR violations.”

In 2006, Indonesia was removed from the Priority Watch List, with a US trade representative praised the government’s commitment to fighting piracy.

The Indonesian Recording Association (ASIRI) earlier reported there were more than 550 million pirated CDs and DVDs traded on the black market in 2008, causing up to 1.4 trillion rupiah ($154 million) in losses.

The Justice and Human Rights Ministry announced last year that software piracy alone had deprived the state of nearly $90 million in potential tax revenues in the past
few years.

Agus Sardjono, an expert of trade and intellectual property law at the University of Indonesia, said poor law enforcement had long been the main cause of rampant piracy in the country.

He said raids in places selling pirated movies and music, like Glodok, were merely “cosmetic”. “The government should focus on those who commit piracy, and not the vendors, because the vendors are only trying to make a living,” he said.

Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) chairwoman Husna Zahir said she supported the fight against IPR violations.

“But that fight shouldn’t extend to violating people’s right to access to knowledge through, for instance, books and software — as long as it’s not for commercial purposes,” she told The Jakarta Post.


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