Cablegate: Costa Rican Ipr Event Links Pirated Goods to Organized Crime
DE RUEHSJ #1132/01 3452238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 112233Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0114
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0110
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001132
DEPT FOR EBB/TPP/IPE JURBAN AND LHUGHES
PLEASE PASS TO USTR AMALITO AND DOLIVER
AMEMBASSY BOGOTA FOR PAO
AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO FOR PAO AEMERSON
AMEMBASSY MEXICO FOR JSALAZAR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR PREL PGOV CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICAN IPR EVENT LINKS PIRATED GOODS TO ORGANIZED CRIME
REF: SAN JOSE 168; 2006 PANAMA 2015
1. SUMMARY: On December 2, Embassy San Jose sponsored an
intellectual property rights (IPR) event featuring the screening of
National Geographic's Illicit, a film about the nefarious links
between pirated consumer goods and transnational crime networks.
We highly recommend screening the film Illicit by other Posts to
raise public awareness as a means to combat IPR enforcement
challenges. Moving forward, we will explore the possibility of
airing the film on Costa Rican national television. We also will
develop a webpage devoted to IPR, provide Illicit DVDs to
educational institutions for lending purposes, hold a follow-on
speaker program in 2010, and consider linking Costa Rican officials
with Panamanian counterparts to discuss the theme of falsified
medicines. End summary.
WHY SUCH AN EVENT?
2. As outlined in Post's IPR strategy (reftel A), advancing the
enforcement of IPR crimes in Costa Rica is difficult and fraught
with legal and institutional hurdles. We concluded that we needed
a twofold public message: (1) IPR promotes both commercial and
cultural innovation -- an advantage to the Costa Rican economy and
(2) the purchase of a pirated good is not an innocent purchase but
an "economic vote" supporting not only illicit merchandise but also
transnational crime networks. Furthermore, while the Costa Rican
Attorney General asserts that his office does not have the
resources to pursue IPR crime, he also states that his office will
prosecute organized crime. Therefore, we want to demonstrate the
connection between IPR and organized crime so as to (1) raise
public awareness of the nefarious and underworld nature of pirated
goods and (2) show the Costa Rican prosecutors and judiciary that
IPR issues and organized crime are inextricably linked and cannot
be compartmentalized, resources notwithstanding.
WHY THE MOVIE ILLICIT?
3. National Geographic's film Illicit is based on a book of the
same title by Moises Naim of Foreign Policy magazine. The film
uses the broad assortment of pirated goods from the obvious such as
DVDs and fashion goods to the not so obvious such as car parts (as
a consequence of reverse engineering) and falsified medicines to
demonstrate the overwhelming scope of the problem. We liked the
idea of showcasing a film produced by an organization with a
sterling reputation based on a book by a well-respected scholar
with Latin American roots. In addition, the film does not focus on
pirated goods as an issue of complaint by multi-national
corporations; rather, the focus is on multi-national criminal
4. We considered screening the film in English early in 2009, but
concluded that the potential audience would be too small. For the
December 2 screening, we presented a dubbed Spanish-language
translation of excellent quality. Thus, Illicit's availability in
Spanish became a key driver for the event. The American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) in Mexico produced the Spanish version of Illicit
only months ago and the distributor, On Screen Films, graciously
made it available to us.
WHO SUPPORTED SUCH AN EVENT?
5. Given the Econ section's lack of budget for such an event, we
solicited support from six sponsors. The lead sponsor was the
Costa Rican-American Cultural Center. The Center's Director Karl
Schmack welcomed the opportunity to open his 300 seat auditorium
for the screening of the film. We then requested donations from
-- Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham),
-- Chamber of Costa Rican Exporters (CADEXCO),
-- Costa Rican Chamber of Information Technology and Communication
-- Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private
Business Sector (UCCAEP), and
-- Central American Federation of Pharmaceutical Laboratories
The donations covered auditorium operating costs and refreshments
for the reception following the movie screening. Please see the
attachment for a digital version of the event program.
6. Preceding the film screening, well-known Costa Rican biologist
Pedro Leon delivered a speech that counter-balanced the dark theme
of Illicit with the positive theme of intellectual property
development and registration. Leon, currently Director of the
GOCR's Peace With Nature initiative, noted his prior experience as
an academic biologist in producing and registering intellectual
property. He explained that university researchers sign over their
intellectual property rights to the university -- without question
-- and emphasized in his talk that it is irresponsible on the part
of the researcher and the university not to register intellectual
property. The "loss of rights" sacrifices the potential yield of
income in the future.
7. Attendees included representatives of the sponsoring chambers,
members of the diplomatic corps, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, law
firms, university officials, students, and prosecutors and judges.
The Italian Ambassador noted his approval of the film even though
one "chapter" focuses on organized crime problems in Naples. The
German DCM praised the direct and hard-hitting impact of the film.
The British DCM was impressed by the film's depiction of the
overwhelming scope of the issue. The film's impact was palpable
throughout the hour-long feature event. At the conclusion, the
estimated 150 participants sat in stunned silence and quietly
exited the theater as if departing from a court sentencing.
HOW CAN WE BUILD ON THE IMPACT OF THIS EVENT?
8. Looking forward, we plan on continuing Illicit's impact by
providing DVDs to Centro Cultural, AmCham, and Costa Rican's
Judicial School. In April or May, we will produce a program on
pirated goods through the speaker program sponsored by Post's
Public Affairs office. We will also explore the possibility of
airing the film on Costa Rican national television (contingent on
approval by National Geographic). Other ideas include linking key
officials of the Panamanian national health system (who are
prominently spotlighted in the film due to the 2006 public health
disaster caused by falsified medicines, reftel B) with the Costa
Rican Ministry of Health. Centro Cultural was electrified by the
prospects of expanding its ties to the Embassy by using its theater
for more Embassy sponsored educational programs and even linking
documentary presentations like Illicit as part of its English
language training programs on site.
9. We received requests for more information on how to acquire the
film. Interest ranged from public awareness to incorporation into
Hospira's company training program. Further, we will develop an
IPR webpage as part of Embassy San Jose's website and present links
to IPR resources and two news clips: Cracking Down, a 12 minute
video clip produced by Seven Network Limited for its Sunday Night
television program, and The Movie Pirates, a 60 Minutes segment
produced by CBS News.
10. We highly recommend screening the film Illicit in other
countries with IPR enforcement challenges. The event required the
seamless cooperation by the Embassy's Economic and Public Affairs
section and our AmCham organization. The film's tough message
confronts consumer complacency regarding pirated goods. The film
effectively shows consequences that range from the unpleasant to
the ugly from the seemingly casual purchase of a pirated good.
Illicit skewers the notion that cheap knock-offs deliver cachet by
revealing the consequences of the "dark trade."