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IP/01/435

Brussels, March 23, 2001

EU, Greece and the USA settle long-running disputeon television piracy

The European Union, Greece and the United States have settled a long-running dispute on television piracy. The parties, this week reached an agreement which brought an end to a dispute that dates back to 1998 when the US requested consultations under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism against the EU and Greece, citing the high level of TV piracy in this country.

This issue dates back to 1998, when the US requested consultations under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism against the EU and Greece. In their request, the US claimed that Greece and the EU, had violated their obligations under the TRIPs Agreement, concerning the enforcement of intellectual property rights, because of the high level of TV piracy in the country.

After these consultations, the US tabled no official request for a panel. In the meantime, Greece implemented the relevant EU legislation in the copyright field and improved its provisions on enforcement, whilst taking concrete actions to combat audio-visual piracy.

For these reasons, the US, Greece and the EU have decided to resolve their dispute and have signed a letter to the Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body aimed at closing the file. In the letter, reference has been made to the substantial progress already made in the fight against audio-visual piracy and to the need for effective means of enforcing intellectual property rights.

Background

The high levels of TV piracy in Greece used to be a matter of serious concern until recent years. Local and sometimes national channels often used to broadcast audiovisual works without any authorization (movies, TV serials etc) and no effective remedies were available for rightholders to fight these infringements. Since 1998, however, the situation has progressively improved, following the implementation of relevant Community legislation on broadcasting, transmission and copyright as well as intellectual property right and the application of enforcement provisions, and effective remedies are nowadays available for rightholders against TV stations that violate their rights.


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