Copyright protection in Pakistan

Copyright protection in Pakistan is a major economic, political and diplomatic issue.
In a country like Pakistan where laws are very difficult to implement, copyright infringment has always been a concern, and the country has been on the Special 301 Watch List since 1989.

Legislative response

Pakistan updated its copyright law with amendments in 1992. However, no significant progress against pervasive copyright piracy was made until 1994, when raids against video piracy began. The International Intellectual Property Alliance recommended last year that Pakistan remain on the Watch List, and USTR agreed, while noting "greater efforts to combat copyright piracy".



Significantly Reduce Book Piracy: Pakistan is one of the world’s worst markets for books, as piracy of published materials is rampant. Large-scale photocopy piracy and higher quality print piracy have completely decimated the market for most legitimate publishers. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) must devote resources and manpower to raid pirate printers and warehouses where pirated books are stored, and pirate retailers, especially those in the Karachi and Lahore Urdu Bazaars. The Ministry of Education must ensure that International Intellectual Property Alliance 2007 Special 301: Pakistan Page 355 all books being used in educational institutions are legitimate copies, and that pirate photocopying is no longer tolerated.

Fix Royalty-Free Book Compulsory License That Violates TRIPS: The government of Pakistan amended its copyright ordinance in 2000 to include Section 36(3) that allows a royalty-free compulsory license of books. This amendment was passed without any opportunity for publishers to comment. This provision threatens to further diminish a market already almost completely overrun by piracy. This royalty-free compulsory license violates the Berne Convention and TRIPS and the government of Pakistan must repeal it.

Prosecute Optical Disc Plant Owners: The Pakistani government took unprecedented actions in 2005, shutting down several factories engaged in piracy of optical discs. Now, the persons responsible for massive pirate OD production in Pakistan (including those who were arrested during the 2005 raids) should be expeditiously prosecuted and given deterrent sentences consistent with the huge scale of their infringing activity. The remaining plants must continue to operate under close government supervision and regular inspections, and the plants previously found to be engaged in piracy, and/or recidivist plants, must remain closed and equipment dismantled and/or destroyed.

Take Action Against “Burning” Operations and Seize More Pirate Imports: With the resounding success of the actions by IPO and FIA against pirate plant production of optical discs, increased vigilance will be needed in 2007 through raids, seizures, and monitoring at the border to ensure that the void is not filled by “burning” operations and/or pirate imports from Southeast Asia. FIA should take swift action against any “burning” operations, including raids, seizures, and, where warranted, arrests. A directive should be issued to Customs officials to be increasingly active in intercepting pirate imports at the borders.

Take Actions Against Business Software Piracy and Other Forms of Piracy: The rate of unauthorized use of business software in Pakistan is extremely high. Inspections should be run against those suspected to be engaged in this form of piracy, and prosecutions brought. In addition, while many prosecutions were brought against those engaging in harddisk loading of pirate software onto computers, the slow pace of court processes and lack of deterrent sentences has meant those engaging in this activity will not be deterred. Steps should be taken to reverse this trend.

Take Action Against Cable and Satellite Piracy:There are around 50,000 satellite dishes receiving unauthorized programming in Pakistan, and over 10% of Pakistani households have unauthorized cable TV connections. It is vital that the Pakistani government take action to address this serious problem.

Amend Copyright Law to Enhance Enforcement, Create Deterrence: The laws in Pakistan remain a weak link, since there are no mandatory minimum sentences; as a result, judges impose only nominal fines which have no deterrent value, and actually embolden pirates. It is essential to strengthen laws by introducing minimum sentences, including mandatory fines and jail sentences.

Pass Optical Disc Regulation: As promptly as possible the Pakistani government should pass and implement an effective optical disc law to enable control over optical disc production, including licensing, inspections (including by representative organizations), closure of plants in violation, monitoring and control on imports of production equipment and International Intellectual Property Alliance 2007 Special 301: Pakistan Page 356 raw materials (including optical grade polycarbonate), requirements to use unique source identifiers (SID mastering-LBR and mold codes) to track the location of production, etc.

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