U.S. Trade Representative: Streaming Video Is Now Chinese's Favorite Piracy Ploy

The U.S. government is urging the Chinese government to crack down on illegal video streaming sites, which it says have become the "preferred" method for watching illegal content.

That is according to the latest annual 301 report from the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The report is an annual review of the state of intellectual property rights around the globe, this year including "troubling "indigenous innovation" policies in China -- one of the countries on the USTR's "priority watch" list -- that could disadvantage U.S. copyright holders.

"China's Internet users are increasingly turning to streaming media to watch foreign television shows and movies," said the report. "While it appears that a number of user generated content sites have eliminated most of their pirated content, these streaming sites have become the preferred method to watch illegal content," it said. "The United States urges the Chinese Government to focus on these streaming sites, and to prevent illegal transmission and rebroadcast of motion pictures and television and sports programming."

U.S. copyright holders also tell the White House, according to the report, that, in this country, mobile devices including smart phones, tablets and flash drives are a growing problem on the piracy protection front.

Israel, which is on the USTR's priority watch list, is being "encouraged" to enforce court decisions requiring cable operators to compensate content owners for unauthorized TV broadcast retransmissions.

The others on the priority list are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. It is essentially the same list as in 2011, with the addition of Ukraine, particularly over concerns that it is not doing enough to stop online piracy. "The United States continues to urge Ukraine to take steps to address serious concerns regarding piracy over the Internet, including by adopting proposed legislation to provide an appropriate regime for notice and takedown."

"This report highlights content theft and barriers in foreign markets that pose threats to the continued growth of U.S. creative industries and the U.S. economy," said Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, in a statement. "Strong copyright protection and enforcement are vital to our industry's ability to create U.S. jobs, grow our own economy, and expand U.S. exports."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.