Ahead of a White House round-table meeting between entertainment executives and high level government officials earlier this week, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein testified before a House subcommittee on the Justice Department’s efforts to protect intellectual property.
Weinstein reported that the Justice Department was working with foreign government agency partners in Europe and Asia. The “cornerstone” of the department’s efforts, said Weinstein, is the Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC) program. Working with the State Department, DOJ “deployed two experienced federal prosecutors to serve as coordinators in Bangkok, Thailand, for Southeast Asia and Sofia, Bulgaria, for Eastern Europe.”
One of the major problem areas for intellectual property right enforcement has been China, Weinstein told lawmakers. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Oversight and Government Reform panel’s subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement, said China is the expert on stealing intellectual property.
Weinstein said China “had been a significant source of counterfeit and pirated products imported into the United States and presents an especially greater challenge to U.S. law enforcement.” He said the department has “prioritized developing strong working relationships with Chinese law enforcement officials.” One of the projects that came out of the cooperation between U.S. and Chinese law enforcement was Operation Summer Solstice, the largest-ever joint criminal enforcement operation between the FBI and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. That effort resulted in the arrest of 25 people. Eleven Summer Solstice defendants have been convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one-and-a-half to six-and-a-half years, Weinstein said.
Most recently, reports the New York Times, the Chinese government is clamping down on Internet file-sharing sites:
Under the new controls, more than 700 Web sites have been shut down, including many that offered free movies, television dramas and music downloads. BT China, which recorded at least 250,000 visits daily, was among them. China’s largest file-sharing site, Very CD, must obtain a new license or face possible shutdown as well, according to news media reports.
Weinstein’s full testimony before the subcommittee is embedded below.