Economics ministry reports on IPR progress
Date: August 29, 2003
The Ministry of Economic Affairs' Intellectual Property Office released a report recently to gauge the progress of IPR protection in Taiwan during the period from April to June 2003. It releases such reports quarterly to document improvements in anti-piracy efforts on the island. The primary measures identified by the report include passing legislative amendments mandating stricter penalties for criminals and higher cash rewards for information leading to the conviction of violators.
There are also efforts to tighten border control procedures and call public attention to the seriousness of IPR protection, according to the document. It further noted that the government launched its "Three-Year IPR Action Plan 2003-2005" back in January.
Meanwhile, joint law-enforcement teams led by the MOEA were set up at government agencies to coordinate the investigation of piracy cases and improve cross-departmental integration. The government claimed that completion of a legal framework and offering educational programs are fundamental to establishing a healthy IPR protection environment in the country.
The report pointed out that the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Copyright Law June 6. The amendment prohibits the use of pirated computer programs for business purposes, while it raised the ceiling on damages awarded in civil cases to US$143,000. Fines for criminal penalties were raised to US$250,000 and copyright infringement was made public offense. This means that copyright holders no longer have to press charges in Taiwanese courts in order for violators to be prosecuted.
Harsher penalties have been imposed in IPR infringement cases, especially piracy. Statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that 693 criminals were convicted of IPR infringement in the first quarter of 2003, marking a 6.28-percent increase from the same period in 2002. Of these, 133 received prison sentences. This number is up almost 21 percent from last year.
An amendment to the Penalty Articles Governing Computer-generated Crimes under the Criminal Code was also passed in the Legislature in June. The legislation is seen as a response to the growth of cyber-crime. The National Police Administration has taken measures to clamp down on the sale and production of pirated disks. Customs authorities have strengthened border control measures in order to stem the import and export of pirated and counterfeit goods.
According to the "Eight Annual BSA Global Software Piracy Study" released in June by the Business Software Alliance, software piracy in Taiwan fell 10 percentage points in 2002 from its 2001 level of 53 percent. This value is, according to the study, 12 percent lower than the 2002 average for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. The study rated software piracy at 92 percent in China, 56 percent in Hong Kong and 77 percent in Thailand.
According to the BSA's annual assessments, Taiwan's score of 43 percent in 2002 represents a 29-percent drop from the country's score of 72 percent recorded in 1994. Many believe this reflects steady progress in improving IPR protection for business software.
Even though the document reported that the average piracy rate for commercial software across the Asia Pacific is at its highest since 1996, with losses in the region in 2002 at an all-time high of US$5.5 billion, the Washington-based group identified Taiwan as a regional economy that had benefited by reducing software piracy. It affirmed that long-term education and public-awareness programs regarding the importance of improved IPR protection in Taiwan have contributed to the drop in the piracy rate for business software in 2002.
Original article at: http://publish.gio.gov.tw
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