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Who is the Baddest of them All? Ukraine, says U.S. Gov

The U.S. government is calling out Ukraine for its shoddy enforcement of intellectual property rights laws, putting the Eastern European nation literally in a class by itself among trading partners who fail to protect copyright holders.

A new report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative designates Ukraine a Priority Foreign Country (PFC), a benign-sounding label reserved for the worst intellectual property rights offenders. It’s been more than seven years since a U.S. trading partner had PFC status.  That country? Ukraine, a PFC from 2001 to 2005, when it improved its practices enough to (temporarily) lose the designation.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s annual report also includes a Priority Watch List of countries that “present the most significant concerns” about intellectual property rights protection. This years list: Algeria, Argentina, Chile,  China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.

Russia’s continued inclusion on the Priority Watch List speaks to the challenges Amazon will face when it opens ebook operations in that country, which we wrote about before  the Trade Representative released its latest report. The new report cites “inadequate enforcement against the growing problem on online piracy,” as the biggest concern.

As for Ukraine, it earned its worst of the worst status because officials not only neglect to prosecute online pirates and fraudulent royalty collection agencies, they routinely break the law as “a significant percentage of the software used by the government itself is unlicensed.”