Canada, China and Russia are among 12 countries targeted by the Obama administration Thursday for failing to sufficiently protect U.S. producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy.
The U.S. placed the 12 countries on a "priority watch list" that will subject them to extra scrutiny and could lead to economic sanctions if the administration decides to bring trade cases before the World Trade Organization.
It was the first time Canada has been placed on the list.
Algeria and Indonesia were also added to the priority list this year.
The Obama administration said Canada was added to the list because of increasing concerns about the need for it to implement copyright reforms and better police its borders to seize pirated goods.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the findings in the report, which has been compiled annually for the past 20 years, would guide the administration's efforts to protect U.S. producers of copyrighted products.
"Our creative and innovative products can hit the global marketplace sometimes with just a keystroke," Kirk said in a statement. "If we and our trading partners are not vigilant in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, they can vanish just as quickly."
Kirk 'particularly troubled' about China
China and Russia have been on the priority watch list for a number of years because of ongoing concerns about what the U.S. sees as rampant piracy of movies, music, computer programs and other copyrighted material.
Kirk said he was "particularly troubled" by reports that Chinese officials are urging more lenient enforcement of intellectual property rights laws because of the financial crisis and the need to protect jobs.
"China needs to strengthen its approach to IPR protection and enforcement, not weaken it," Kirk said.
The other countries on the watch list in this year's report were Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela.
Another 33 trading partners were placed on a lower-level watch list, indicating the administration is concerned about various copyright issues in those countries but does not view them as the largest threats to U.S. businesses.
The 33 trading partners placed on this year's watch list are: Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.