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Ukraine vows once more to stamp out piracy

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May 19, 2000, 11 a.m. | Business — by Christina Ling
Promise to curb rampant copyright infringements comes as international pressure mounts; but top official admits it could take years to resolve problem have prompted threats of foreign sanctions. Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Zhulynsky said it would take years to resolve the underlying cause of the former Soviet state's piracy problem - the flourishing 'shadow' or unofficial economy. 'The situation with piracy in Ukraine is critical ... We will do everything to fight this evil effectively,' Zhulynsky told a news conference after chairing a government commission on the issue. 'To resolve this problem we need years and years - the shadow economy is such a complex system,' he added, saying about 30 major Ukrainian firms and around 100 smaller ones were believed to be producing and distributing discs illegally. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) estimates illegal Ukrainian CDs cost the industry at least $120 million a year. Experts say Ukraine has signed most major international conventions, but its criminal code is not tough enough. The United States has also stepped up pressure on Ukraine, which this year remained on the U.S. Trade Representative's priority list of problem countries in connection with infringements of intellectual property rights. If the United States, which conducts annual reviews of so-called hot spots around the world, decided the situation had worsened, it could lead to cuts of preferential trade benefits, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Kiev said. 'The U.S. recording industry has identified combating piracy in Ukraine as one of its top priorities in the world,' the spokesman said. 'However, Ukraine is moving forward to address the problem. Progress is being made and, in light of the special relationship between the United States and Ukraine, both sides share an interest in resolving the problem of piracy.' He said intellectual property rights specialists arriving in Ukraine next week for talks with the government were part of a drive to help the government devise an action plan by August 1. Zhulynsky said Ukraine, whose own software developers and musicians have suffered heavily from domestic piracy, also had to defend its rights. 'Our (CD) production is of high quality. We have to support our producers and at the same time ensure that production has the opportunity to grow,' he said.
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