China's 'taking steps' on piracy


WASHINGTON -- The chairwoman of the House Entertainment Industries Caucus said Monday that the Chinese are willing to play ball with the U.S. over intellectual property issues despite that country's denunciation of a Bush administration decision to take to the World Trade Organization complaints of widespread piracy and counterfeiting of American goods.

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., said in an interview that Beijing realizes that trade in copyrighted goods is a two-way street. She just returned from a congressional delegation to China that included meetings with high-ranking trade ministers.

"They are taking steps, but it is almost an impossible task," Watson said. "They realize that it's in their best interests and our best interests to protect intellectual property. The protection of intellectual property works both ways."

During the recent recess, Watson traveled to China with House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, chairman of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

The trip comes after the White House announced separate cases against China at the WTO about pirated copies of music and movies and for placing market-access barriers against U.S. companies offering legitimate products.

China has taken exception to the action, which it said "runs against the consensus reached between the two countries' leaders as to developing bilateral trade relations and properly handling trade problems."

Watson has a special interest in the copyright community's battles with China, as Culver City and Hollywood are in her district. She also is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

While Watson said the Chinese appear to be willing to come to terms, it was unclear what they would do to satisfy U.S. concerns given the complex relationship between the countries.

"We need them and they need us, so we need to let them know (that) when they don't enforce the laws, there is a penalty to be paid," she said. "We want to be bridge builders and engage them to follow the law."