The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is expected to release next month its 2009 “Special 301” report on copyright piracy, including the list of countries placed on the 2009 Watch List and the 2009 Priority Watch List. Last year’s “Special 301” report listed five trading partners from the Middle East region on the Watch List: Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon,  and Saudi Arabia.

The placement decision of the USTR is based on various assessment factors including the 2009 annual review and recommendations of the International Intellectual Property Alliance IIPA (a private sector coalition formed to improve the international protection of US copyrighted material), which were issued on February 17, 2009. This year’s major recommendations submitted by the IIPA with regards to trading partners from the Middle East region include the following:

1. Algeria: IPA recommends that Algeria be removed from the Watch List.
2. Egypt: IIPA recommends that Egypt be elevated to the Priority Watch List.
3. Kuwait, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia: IIPA recommends that these countries remain on the Watch List.

Although serious efforts have been made in 2008 by the governments of Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia to improve intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, the IIPA hopes that additional steps are taken to address the shortcomings in the copyright enforcement issues as well as the software piracy issues.

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