U.S. Seeks to Force China's Hand on Arts Trade

The United States has filed two major trade cases against China. It argues that American entertainment companies are hurt because China fails to stop piracy and has too many market restrictions on music and movies.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

In NPR's business news, the U.S. takes China to court for piracy.

The Bush administration is asking the World Trade Organization to rule that China has not done enough to fight intellectual property theft. Standing near a table of pirated DVDs and CDs, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said yesterday that American companies were losing billions of dollars annually from illegal versions of American products. The U.S. also says China is making it too hard for American companies to sell legal versions of their own products.

But as NPR's Adam Davidson reports, piracy in China goes way beyond the entertainment industry.

ADAM DAVIDSON: In China, it's easy to buy pirated copies of just about everything. You can buy pirated Crest toothpaste, pirated AC Delco brakes for your car. For that matter, you could buy a pirated Ford car, pirated drugs. There are countless thousands of factories in China that do nothing but churn out copies of American goods.

There are countless stores in China that sell those pirated goods. And for years, the U.S. has in turns asked, begged and cajoled China to stop that piracy. Sean Spicer is the U.S. trade representative's spokesman.

Mr. SEAN SPICER (Trade Rep Spokesman): Litigation is the last resort. And you come to a point where you just say, you know, I think we've exhausted our discussions, it's time to take it to the next level.

DAVIDSON: In addition to the piracy case, the U.S. is also suing China for a law that forces American entertainment companies to only sell music and movies, books and magazines through state-run companies that often restrict the content of those goods. It will likely take several years for the WTO to resolve this dispute.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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