For decades now, we’ve all believed the Switzerland was an essentially harmless nation. After all, when you think of Switzerland, you tend to think of well-made timepieces, wonderful chocolate and wartime diplomacy that led to the country sitting out conflicts in relative peace, don’t you? Certainly, a country like that can’t be up to anything too dangerous, right…?
Well, that’s not the case according to the US Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which has placed the country firmly in the “naughty” category with the release of its 2012 International Piracy Watch List today. Switzerland makes the top five of troublemakers in the list, alongside China, Russia, Italy and the Ukraine. Canada and Spain get politely applauded in the same list for being “countries in transition” to a more copyright-respectful place following the implementation of stronger copyright laws.
“Copyright dependent industries – film, home video and television programming, music, books, video games, and software – play an enormous role in the American economy,” ran the press release accompanying today’s release. “According to a report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance, core copyright industries employed 5.1 million Americans in 2010 in jobs that paid 27 percent more than the average wage. These industries remain some of our most internationally competitive, collectively ranking as the second largest exporting sector in the U.S. However, as the Anti-Piracy Caucus Watch List highlights, they frequently do not compete on a level playing field due to the rampant levels of piracy in many major international markets.”
The reason for Switzerland’s inclusion on the list, according to the report, is its copyright law. Described as “inadequate,” said law allows the country to become “a home for rogue sites whose clear purpose is to facilitate and enable massive unathorized making available of pirated material.” If you’re wondering exactly what that refers to, then the answer is most likely Rapidshare, the file-sharing site based outside of Zurich. Currently, Swiss law allows for unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material for personal use, a controversial decision that was nonetheless re-affirmed as recently as last year following a government review… not that that’s enough for the CIAPC. The report demands that Swiss law “must be updated to provide for meaningful enforcement efforts against digital piracy,” going on to note that “until these changes are made, Switzerland will continue to be a magnet for rogue sites.”
Determining that the country is currently not fulfilling obligations under the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, the report goes on to say that “Switzerland must ensure basic accountability for enterprises that profit from widespread infringement and clarify that copying from illegal sources is illegal.”
Despite the rebuke, you have to wonder if Switzerland will end up following the prescriptions set out for its rehabilitation in this report. After all, doesn’t this give the country a little bit of a much-needed “bad boy” edge…?