Report: U.S. to file piracy case against China

Bush administration is said to be ready to take dispute over pirated movies, music and software to the WTO.

NEW YORK ( -- The United States is set to file a formal trade complaint against China after prodding the Chinese for months to crack down on pirated copies of American movies, music and software, news reports said Saturday.

The move, expected next week in a filing at the World Trade Organization, is likely to escalate trade tensions between the two countries.

The Bush administration will file two cases challenging China's lax enforcement of its own antipiracy laws and its tight restrictions on the distribution of foreign movies, music and printed material, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The complaints come after years of work in Washington to build a case against China over alleged intellectual-property abuses, which hit U.S. exports ranging from auto parts to movies to books to scientific journals, the newspaper said.

The New York Times said in a separate report that administration officials have strongly hinted in recent weeks that they are close to filing a formal complaint with the WTO, the group that polices world trade.

The report said the administration claims that China has failed to prosecute all but a small fraction of the ubiquitous and visible street trade in bootlegged American entertainment.

Some industry groups aren't expected to support the case, the Journal said in its report, notably those whose members include Microsoft Corp (Charts)., Apple Inc (Charts)., and Pfizer (Charts).

The software and drug sectors have made their own trade advances and don't want to see that work disturbed, the report said, quoting administration and industry officials said.

The cases to be filed are just the latest U.S. trade actions against China in recent months.

In February Washington filed a WTO case saying China doled out unfair subsidies to a range of Chinese industries, and the Commerce Department recently opened the way for U.S. companies to seek higher tariffs on some Chinese paper imports found to have benefited from government subsidies, the Journal noted.

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