The United States on Friday accused Greece of letting its television stations rampantly steal American TV shows but praised China for making significant progress in cracking down on copyright pirates there.
Greece was the only nation singled out for immediate action in an annual review of copyright piracy around the world. The Clinton administration said Friday that the United States was filing a complaint against Greece with the World Trade Organization.U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said Greece and 14 other trading partners were being put on a "priority watch list" for patent and copyright abuses that, if not corrected in coming months, could make them subject to U.S. trade sanctions.
She said Greece had failed to take action against 150 Greek television stations that continue to broadcast U.S. films and television programming without payment to U.S. copyright holders.
Both countries will now have 60 days to negotiate a settlement to the dispute before a WTO hearing panel is appointed. Barshefsky expressed the hope that the dispute would be resolved quickly.
Achilees Paparsenos, press counselor for the Greek embassy, said his country is in the process of implementing regulatory changes that will deny license renewals to TV stations that do not halt broadcasting pirated material.
U.S. film and television executives hailed the decision to bring a WTO case against Greece, saying the Greek government had been foot-dragging on the issue.
"For over 10 years, Greece has blatantly allowed its TV stations to steal from our member companies," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
China, once considered the world leader in copyright piracy, was praised in the U.S. review for reforms it has implemented since 1996.