The United States has for the first time identified neighboring country Canada as being amongst the worst offenders of copyright piracy, according to the US Trade Representatives (USTR) office.
In a statement issued today, the USTR announced that it has placed Canada on the Priority Watch List of offending nations for the first time.
"In this time of economic uncertainty, we need to redouble our efforts to work with all of our trading partners - even our closest allies and neighbors such as Canada - to enhance protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights," said Ron Kirk of the USTR.
The Entertainment Software Association has applauded the move, with CEO Michael D Gallagher saying that "Canada's weak laws and enforcement practicies foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the US."
The ESA has called on Canada to strengthen what it calls "legal and enforcement deficiencies," specifically asking the nation to outlaw game circumvention devices and mod chips, create legal incentives for ISPs to combat online piracy, provide Customs officials with the authority to seize counterfeit products on the Canadian border, and to provide resources to make the prosecution of pirates a high priority.
"Canada contributes significantly to the development of today’s leading games - creating thousands of high-paying jobs along the way," Gallagher said. "We are eager to see Canada become a full partner in protecting these products on the way to market."
The Priority Watch List, issued annually by the USTR, binds Washington to put diplomatic pressure on trade partner nations to improve their copyright and patent regimes.
Canada joins eleven other nations on the Priority Watch List, including China, India, Thailand, and Russia, which Reuters reports has been on the list for at least seven consecutive years. Algeria and Indonesia have also been elevated to the list