Reference ID: 08ATHENS1456    

Created: 2008-10-17 16:25       

Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED    

Origin: Embassy Athens

                


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OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN

RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG

DE RUEHTH #1456/01 2911625

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 171625Z OCT 08

FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2655

INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHIK/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI PRIORITY 1959


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001456

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR EUR/SE - IGOODMAN

DEPT FOR EEB/TPP/IPE - JURBAN

DEPT PASS TO USDOC - HILLEARY SMITH

DEPT PASS TO USTR - LESLIE YANG

DEPT PASS TO USPTO - MSMITH

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR GR PREL

SUBJECT: GREECE AND IPR -- VISIT BY USTR

 

REF: ATHENS 01360

 

ATHENS 00001456  001.2 OF 003

 

 

Summary:

---------

 

¶1.  (SBU) During the visit of Leslie Yang (USTR's Director

for Europe), Government of Greece (GoG) officials outlined

current and planned efforts to improve IPR protection and

enforcement.  Yang also met with Greek industry

representatives including: Business Software Alliance (BSA),

the Association of Greek Producers of Phonograms (IFPI), and

the Motion Picture Association (EPOE).  The industry

representatives re-iterated the key points echoed during

meetings with Department of Commerce Hilleary Smith as

reported in reftel.  Specifically, industry continued to

stress that it wanted concrete results from the GoG,

especially from the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) and the

newly created working groups as well as stronger enforcement

in the judiciary and enforcement components.  In a separate

meeting following Yang's visit, Hellenic Copyright Office

(OPI) Director Irini Stamatoudi briefed EconOff on GoG's

efforts and said that IMC would help, also citing a new

inter-governmental database of IPR infringers to track

repeat-offenders.  Whether there will be significant concrete

improvements in IPR protection and enforcement remains to be

seen, including whether the IMC will take effective action.

End Summary.

 

Industry Still Wants to See Results

-----------------------------------

 

¶2.  (SBU) As reported in reftel cable in DOC Smith's visit,

industry representatives repeated to Yang that they would

like to see concrete results from the GoG.  Arhondoula

Papapanagiotou from BSA stressed that the tax police should

execute more raids and should publicize their results.

(reftel)  As for GoG's efforts on IPR protection and

enforcement, she said they did not get the impression that a

working group was empowered to take concrete steps.  IFPI

representatives including Irene Tsiliri and Panos

Theofanellis who had met with Hilleary Smith told Yang that

the judicial element needed strengthening and that

administrative fines not being imposed by police.  IFPI also

expressed great concern regarding changes to the Greek law

being considered by a Legislative Committee.  In addition,

IFPI railed against the GoG's efforts thus far, and commented

that they were not getting any political support from the

GoG. (reftel)  In the meeting with EPOE, the representative

Jim Valsamides highlighted lack of public education/outreach

and the need to improve the judicial education.  Despite

industry's attempts to give a prioritized short wish-list, he

doubted whether the GoG would be able to keep a consistent

approach to addressing IPR protection and enforcement.  All

three associations discussed difficulties in getting

cooperation from ISPs in combating internet piracy.

 

 

Special Tax Police (YPEE): Taking Off the Gloves

--------------------------------------------- ---

 

¶3.  (SBU)  Special Tax Police (YPEE) head Marios Tsakas

detailed the results of the five previous waves of audit

letters sent to companies requesting documentation of their

software licenses.  Tsakas said the process was going well,

but that there was a mixed response from companies.  For

those companies that did not reply, Tsakas said he sent out

small teams to investigate on a sporadic basis.  Although he

did not have the capacity to check all the companies, most

companies tended to comply for fear of getting a more a

thorough audit of all their accounting books.  If a violation

is discovered, Tsakas said that companies get an

administrative fine of 900 euros for each illegal software

multiplied per user.  In addition to the fine, the companies

are obligated to pay fees to obtain the license for each

operating user.

 

¶4.  (SBU) Regarding the publishing of statistics, Tsakas said

that his organization planned to include more information on

the YPEE website although some numbers could not be included

due to their confidentiality.  Overall, YPEE shared a

positive working relationship with the Business Software

Alliance (BSA), especially the letter campaign to tackle

illegal software piracy.  Nevertheless, it continues to be a

struggle to enforce IPR for illegally downloaded music.  He

added that YPEE had a difficult time addressing illegal

 

ATHENS 00001456  002.2 OF 003

 

 

software in the public sector as each minister should be held

accountable for violations in their ministries.

 

¶5.  (SBU) Hellenic Copyright Office (OPI) Director Irini

Stamatoudi stressed to EconOff in a September 30 meeting that

YPEE was "extremely effective" and sent representatives to

participate in all GoG IPR-related meetings.  Although

Stamatoudi said she has not yet met with YPEE's new head, she

said he had a strong reputation and believed he would do a

good job.  In spite of the positive cooperation with YPEE,

Stamatoudi added YPEE could not tackle IPR alone and needed

help from the Ministries of Interior and Justice.

 

Judicial Education

------------------

 

¶6.  (SBU) President of the Judges Academy in Athens Takis

Pikramenos specializes in administrative, not IP, law.  But

by discussing current education at the Academy with Yang and

EconOff, the idea of IPR enforcement seminars directly

following IP sessions at the Academy emerged.  Such seminars

could be in a roundtable-format with European interlocutors

who share a similar legal system.  Stamatoudi mentioned

separately that IPR seminars could be tacked on to an

upcoming seminar hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(MFA) on money-laundering and trafficking.  She thought this

might be a good way to give this topic some urgency and give

judges the opportunity to ask in-depth questions, especially

those who work in specialized units that handle IPR cases.

 

¶7.  (SBU) MFA representative Christina Argiropoulou

underlined that the IMC was dedicated to developing a

long-term IPR strategy, but part of the problem involved the

context (reftel). "The problem with the Greek justice system

is that we have to be mindful of the independence of judges

and that the Greek Government does not have the authority to

impose certain mandates on the judges," she explained.

Argiropoulou said the plan was to sensitize the judges to the

issue in an "indirect and discreet" manner.  The working

groups were working on a three-pillar strategy:

inter-government statistics, enforcement by the judges, and

public awareness.  In order to bring about concrete change in

IPR protection and enforcement, Argiropoulou said the working

groups, thus far, have two concentrations--one group will

focus on "operational" issues of enforcement, the other group

will review Greek law to see if changes in the law are needed

to improve IPR protection and enforcement." (reftel)

 

¶8.  (SBU) Argiropoulou said SecGen Skylakakis (IMC Chair)

would like to have a meeting with the private sector at some

point.  (Comment: It is still not clear how the IMC will take

into account private sector input.  End Comment.)  She added

there would be meetings of the working group and the IMC

before the end of the month.  Argiropoulou said that the GoG

is taking steps to combat piracy because of loss of money,

not because of the Special 301 Watch List listing.  She noted

the GoG had received USG input in the Special 301 initiative

paper.  Yang explained how the USG hoped to use a Special 301

initiative as a vehicle for increased engagement between the

USG and the GoG.

 

Getting Interest-Groups on the Same Page

----------------------------------------

 

¶9.  (SBU) In separate meetings, Argiropoulou and Stamatoudi

admitted the challenges involved in getting Internet Service

Providers (ISPs) to shut down the accounts of IPR infringers.

 Stamatoudi described how OPI had launched an open forum on

their website to get public input on the role of ISPs in

combating internet piracy, but it resulted in attracting

remarks against the proposal.  In spite of assurances from

the GoG, most ISPs refused to take action unless there was

specific legislative requirement.  There was no political

will, given strong privacy data laws and heightened Greek

sensitivities to the issue, to bring about significant

changes at this time; nevertheless, Stamatoudi said she was

examining legislation in other European countries that could

provide examples with an aim to amend current copyright law.

 

¶10. (SBU) Stamatoudi warned that industry needed to have a

more cohesive approach to approaching IPR.  She stressed that

there were often disconnects between the groups and that it

was difficult at times to facilitate constructive dialogue on

the issue.  For example, she pointed to the case of

establishing a inter-governmental database, housed in OPI, to

 

ATHENS 00001456  003.2 OF 003

 

 

keep track of IPR violators and repeat-offenders.  The

Association of Greek Producers of Phonograms (IFPI) agreed to

the initiative, while EPOE, the local representatives for the

Motion Picture Association did not.  Stamatoudi also insisted

that neither BSA nor IFPI had the appropriate licenses from

the Ministry of Culture to act as official representatives

for their respective industries, but she continued to meet

with them to discuss their needs.  IFPI told us that they had

applied and received a one-time license to operate.  In the

meeting with Stamatoudi she complained that the IFPI ran to

the police when they had information and did not keep OPI in

the loop on all the reports, yet the police had told her that

they rarely had the complete information needed to make an

arrest.

 

Collaboration is Good, Still Needs Improvement

--------------------------------------------- -

 

¶11. (SBU)  Director General of Customs Nikolas Vernadakis

maintained that relations with the MFA and the Ministry of

Culture were quite good and that they have achieved

considerable progress.  Vernadakis commented that the next

step will be the creation of an inter-agency database that

captures the data of the IPR infringers and will be created

in close collaboration with the private sector.  He said that

some of his employees had attended a special training session

by Nike and had found it useful to identify counter-feit

goods.  In response to FCS officer suggestion that the World

Customs Organization would be happy to provide to trainers,

Vernadakis welcomed the idea.  Similarly, he thought industry

could work with the customs and police forces more

effectively to identify pirated goods such as CDs and DVDs.

 

¶12.  (SBU) Despite Vernadakis' positive spin, Stamatoudi

reported separately that the problem was not the police, but

the municipality officials who were not allowed to carry a

weapon.  "They are not effective and they need to be

empowered," she said.  She recommended that the municipality

officials go with special units from the tax police to

enforce the law.  These types of "mixed raids" would have a

better impact, she said.

 

Comment

-------

 

¶13. (SBU) The newly-created Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC)

and working groups were lauded by all interlocutors; however,

there needs to be concrete results tied to the creation of

these groups to support the GoG's back-slapping on this

issue.  Also outstanding is to what extent the IMC and

working groups will take into account industry input.  End

Comment.

SPECKHARD