Repression against piracy or whoever uses it, take care?


Gazeta Mercantil (Editorial), 06/04/2005

April 6, 2005 - The United States Ministry of Foreign Trade (USTR) has announced that it will extend until September the request for review of the privileges of the General System of Preferences (SGP), a mechanism that grants tariff exemptions to Brazilian exports. The threat tone is significant, since, for example, in 2003, 14% of Brazilian exports to the USA - valued at US $ 2,5 billion - entered at zero rates, protected by the SGP. In 2004, the value dropped to US $ 2,1 billion, just over 10% of Brazilian sales to the USA. The threat, however, has its dose of curiosity, since among the products that take advantage of this system are vehicle parts produced by American companies in Brazil.

The USTR filed a lawsuit against Brazil was made by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), based on its own data that, in 2004, US companies lost US $ 932 million for illegal copying of their products, US $ 24,5 million more than in 2003. Despite the insistence of IIPA, the American authorities preferred a more conciliatory tone because the USTR recognized police actions against piracy - only in 2004 did a record seizure of 1,2 million programs and illegal computer games in Brazil.

USTR information on the Brazilian lawsuit against piracy is incomplete. In addition to the 1,2 million softs seized in 2004, another 500 fake products and 1,19 million pirated CDs were also seized. That year, 660 specific police operations were carried out against this type of crime, which resulted in the closure of 18 large laboratories for the illegal reproduction of softs. There were more than 500 police inquiries and dozens of arrests in the act. Without forgetting that the crackdown on piracy has aspects of tax preservation: an extra revenue of R $ 1 billion is foreseen in 2006, only in federal taxes.

There are also other intricacies in this difficult issue of protecting intellectual property. In the annual report on barriers and investments that the US faces in other countries, the 2005 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (available on the website, the complaints about piracy in Brazil are repeated, the progress of police repression is not recognized and, interestingly, there is a paragraph on energy, in which the new electric model being implemented in Brazil is criticized, which, according to the report , American companies that made investments in the country.

On the other hand, the Brazilian government's effective action against piracy has received recognition from sufficiently authorized international sources. By participating in the destruction of 1 million pirated CDs in January, John Mewton, responsible for Interpol's Intellectual Property Crimes Unit, praised the Brazilian government's work against piracy, ensuring that the country consolidates itself as a leader in combating this type of crime in the region. Interpol's special interest in issues of cracking down on piracy is that throughout the world, all this type of activity is linked to organized crime.

For this set of reasons, Itamaraty adopted the correct measure by stating, in an official note, that the most appropriate measure at this point would be to close the process at the USTR, and not to postpone it. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs based its consideration on the “breadth and depth” of the information offered to the American government on the fight against piracy. It is a fact that the Brazilian authorities do not hide and deny the risk embedded in piracy activities. Despite the repression, the executive secretary of the Ministry of Justice recognizes, for example, that more than half of the CDs sold in Brazil are illegal.

However, in many of these international condemnations of piracy, especially those most closely linked to the rules of international trade, there is a strong trail of hypocrisy. At the seminar “Brazil against piracy”, promoted by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp), the Minister of Development, Luiz Fernando Furlan, after saying that the country is doing its homework in the fight against piracy, recalled that Brazil is in 11th place in the ranking of software counterfeiting, a list led by the USA.

More than 90% of the pirated goods that circulate in Brazil come from China, Taiwan and Korea, and a large part of them have stopped at large North American ports. The latent threatening tone of the USTR communiqué is, therefore, dispensable, even so that the memory of the old Iberian saying, “whoever uses it, takes care” does not become excessive.