RI's fight against piracy pays off

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's efforts to protect intellectual property rights have finally borne fruit, as the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced an upgrade of the country's status in the fight against piracy Monday.

The Special 301 review, an annual process conducted by the U.S. government that assesses the state of protection of intellectual property rights in countries around the world, states that Indonesia has demonstrated solid progress in strengthening its intellectual property regime.

"In recognition of these steps forward, the U.S. government has raised Indonesia from the Priority Watch List to the Watch list," USTR assistant Barbara Weisel said in Jakarta on Monday.

Weisel explained that the upgrade to the Watch list would have positive implications for Indonesia's economy in the form of an enhancement of confidence and competitiveness.

"By improving its level of intellectual property protection, Indonesia has also improved its attractiveness as a foreign investment destination," Weisel said.

According to a 2005 World Economic Forum survey, Indonesia ranked 74th worldwide in terms of competitiveness, a drop of five places from 2004's ranking. That placing was a far cry from 1997, when the country was the world's 15th-most competitive nation.

Among the advances recorded, the review noted that Indonesia has enacted seven laws in the field of intellectual property rights, namely the Trade Secrets Law, Industrial Design Law, Patents Law, Trademarks Law, Copyright Law, the Plant Variety Protection Law, and the Integrated Circuits Law -- plus the necessary ancillary regulations. It had also increased the number of police raids being staged.

During the period between January and August 2006, the police had conducted a significant number of raids, and had inspected 6 factories and 29 home industries, dozens of malls and hundreds of retailers and vendors.

A total of seven million illegal CDs/VCDs/DVDs had been seized, as well as 37 optical disc reproduction machines, hundreds of kilograms of plastic ores, and a number of vehicles used in the illicit business. In addition, some 400 suspects had been arrested.

This year, 1,228 intellectual property infringement cases had been reported to police headquarters, out of which 1,219 cases were cases of illegal reproduction and selling of optical discs.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had also shown clear support by issuing Decree No. 4 of 2006 in March, which established a national team for combating the infringement of intellectual property rights.

Members of the national team included the National Police chief and the Attorney General.

Director General of Intellectual Property Rights Abdul Bari Azed, who was also present at the announcement, explained that the team was responsible for formulating policies, evaluating resolutions, issuing guidance and directions, providing education to the public, and enhancing bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation.

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), software piracy in Indonesia inflicts around US$70 to $80 million in losses on the state per year, while a study by the International Data Corporation reveals that around 87 percent of all software in the country is pirated.

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