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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Europe
 

GREECE AND IPR -- VISIT BY USTR

     
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Reference ID: 08ATHENS1456    
Created: 2008-10-17 16:25       
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED    
Origin: Embassy Athens
                

VZCZCXRO8389
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
 
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