COPYRIGHT SAFEGUARDS ELUSIVE

A Renewed note of acrimony may soon sound in U.S.-Brazilian relations.

Last December, the Reagan administration set a June 30 deadline for resolving the Brazilian informatics issue - the U.S. complaint that Brazil is unfairly denying copyright protection to U.S. computer software makers and otherwise reserving its informatics market for Brazilian companies.The June 30 deadline, however, was only the latest in a series of deadlines the administration had set in this case. At one point last year, it even threatened to hike tariffs on some Brazilian products, failing an informatics accord by Dec. 31.

But Brazil offered a couple of last-minute concessions, whose significance U.S. industry executives question, and the administration blinked, or winked.

Once again, deadline time approaches. Conversations are under way. Two weeks ago, Vico Henriques, president of the Computer Business Manufacturers Association, and William Krist, vice president of the American Electronics Association, wrote a joint letter to Marcilio Marques Moreira, Brazil's ambassador here.

Both we and Brazil . . . stand to lose a great deal from failure to resolve the informatics (information technology) trade case . . . Unless progress can be made . . . before the deadline of June 30, the U.S. administration may find itself with little alternative but to act to underline the unacceptability of the current situation in Brazil, they said.

The implication, of course, is that without progress the United States will take trade reprisals. If so, it could not come at a much worse moment, given Brazil's political, economic and social turmoil.

Still, or because of this, Brazil seems unbudgeable, industry sources say.

At the center of the U.S. computer industry's concerns is copyright protection. The industry seeks from Brazil international copyright standards for software - the programmed material on which computers run.

Pending before the Brazilian Congress is a software copyright bill, but it does not provide the protection sought. In fact, says one U.S. source, the bill is hideous. Yet, industry sources say, it could meet international standards, if only some minor changes were made.

But even if Brazil meets U.S. copyright protection requests, other problems will remain - primarily discriminatory trade and investment rules.

Though the U.S.-Brazilian informatics dispute is the most publicized of its genre, the U.S. computer industry also is trying to get other more advanced developing countries to halt computer software piracy.

It is being helped by both Congress and the administration. Congress, in the 1984 Trade Act, gave the administration greater leverage to negotiate

copyright reforms with developing nations. And the administration apparently is open to using it.

The leverage: If a developing nation denies intellectual property protection for U.S. firms, the United States may curtail its duty-free privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences.

Take Indonesia: Last September, the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association formally asked the U.S. trade representative to suspend Indonesia's duty-free benefits if it did not improve its copyright law and enforcement.

In March, Indonesia showed U.S. officials proposed changes to its law. Though the changes fell short of the U.S. industry's suggestions, Indonesia, according to the association, is coming to terms with the reality of the need to protect intellectual property.

Still, the association cautions, if Indonesia does not meet international

copyright norms by Oct. 1, it will press for suspension of those duty-free privileges.

Heat is starting to be applied to Thailand. An inter-industry coalition called the International Intellectual Property Alliance has drafted a petition to the trade representative asking that duty-free treatment be suspended for Thailand, if it does not send a copyright protection bill to its legislature by June 1.

South Korea is another case where the U.S. computer industry is pressing hard for greater protection. Last summer, after the U.S. government launched a section 301 unfair trade practices probe, South Korea agreed to a new

copyright law, to take effect July 1.

But the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association says the problems are not necessarily resolved. South Korea's draft decrees implementing the new copyright rules are deficient in many areas, it reports. They call into question the sincerity of the Korean government's commitment.

As with Brazil, the association hopes that its problems with South Korea can be settled in the weeks ahead.

However gradually, U.S. industry and government, working together, appear to be bringing a growing number of advanced developing nations into the international fold, where somebody else's copyrighted enterprise is respected, not pirated.

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