Losses due to copyright piracy totaled $12.38 billion in 1998, up from $11.69 billion in the prior year, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance's annual review of illegal copying of works produced by America's intellectual property companies. The hardest hit business continues to be computer software; producers of business application software lost $4.65 billion to illegal copying last year, while producers of entertainment programs lost $3.4 billion. Book publishers lost $685.2 million in sales to pirates in 1998, compared to $665.3 million in 1997.

The severest copyright problem for book publishers is in the People's Republic of China, where pirates cost publishers $125 million in 1998, according to IIPA estimates. Other countries in which book publishers lost a significant amount of sales to pirates were: Russia, $45 million; Pakistan, $40 million; the Philippines, $39 million; South Korea and Mexico, $35 million; India and Indonesia, $30 million; Thailand and Turkey, $28 million.

In comments accompanying the report, IIPA president Eric Smith urged U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky to press foreign countries to ratify various trade agreements, including the WIPO digital treaties that were negotiated in Geneva in 1996. Smith noted that the WIPO agreements "provide the essential legal framework" for the growth of e-commerce. "The global nature of this new and exciting medium demands that industry and government act in unison and on a global basis to secure full ratification and implementation of these digital rules of the road," Smith said.