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USTR Ron Kirk Welcomes Action by the Government of The Bahamas to Restore Protection for U.S. Pay TV Content

September 30, 2009

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk today welcomed steps by the Government of The Bahamas toward fulfilling their commitment to restore copyright protection for U.S. pay television content in line with a Letter of Understanding signed with the United States in November 2000.

"Tomorrow, a new law will go into effect in The Bahamas that should provide the legal tools necessary to ensure that legitimate American companies don't have to compete with unauthorized transmissions of their own shows. This is a victory for American businesses and a victory for Caribbean audiences," said Ambassador Kirk.

"USTR is dedicated to delivering the benefits of trade commitments to U.S. creative industries and their workers," he added. "If properly implemented, this law should help to open a new export market for the programming of American pay television channels and provide a positive example of respect for intellectual property throughout the region."

This opportunity stems from new steps taken by the Government of The Bahamas to authorize the entry into force of amendments to its copyright law passed in 2004. The Government of The Bahamas had not previously allowed these 2004 amendments to enter into force.

The delayed amendments were designed to fulfill a commitment made by The Bahamas in a November 2000 Letter of Understanding with the United States. In that Letter of Understanding, the Government of The Bahamas committed to "make amendments to the Copyright Act and Regulations so as to narrow the scope of its compulsory licensing regime for the reception and transmission of copyrighted works to permit only the compulsory licensing of copyrighted works broadcast free over-the-air."

In April, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released the 2009 Special 301 report announcing among other things that USTR would review the IPR practices of beneficiaries, including The Bahamas, as part of its bi-annual review of the operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act. That review will assess countries' compliance with the preference program's eligibility criteria, which include the extent to which a country prohibits its nationals from broadcasting U.S. copyrighted materials without permission. The review will be concluded no later than December 31, 2009.