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USTR: Ease of Online Video Distribution is Boon and Bane

The U.S. Trade Representative has issued its annual report on trading partners that aren't sufficiently protecting intellectual property and one of the takeaways was the direct threat piracy poses to streaming video services.

USTR said that illicit streaming devices (ISDs) that steal video "continue to pose a direct threat to content creators, sports leagues, and live performances, as well as legitimate streaming, on-demand, and over-the-top media service providers."

The so-called Special 301 (Section 301 of the Trade Act) Report said that the same tech developments that make the internet such a successful vehicle for distributing movies, TV, and other copyrighted content make it just as efficient at distributing pirated content.

The appetite for streamed content has never been higher given the current pandemic.

The report also said that theft of cable signals (though it oddly phrases it as "signal theft by cable operators") continues to be a problem. That theft includes circumventing encryption and set-top hacking, as well as stealing "overspill" signals, which are ones from neighboring countries. Hotels are one culprit, said the report, using their own on-site facilities to steal the signal and distribute it to their guests.

The report identified 33 countries whose marketplaces--virtual and physical--lack adequate IP protections and so need to be on a Priority Watch List or Watch List. On the Priority list were Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela.

On the Watch list were Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The report also said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will get "out-of-cycle" reviews, signaling specific IP concerns.