US VP: ‘Piracy is outright theft’

US Vice President Joseph Biden has followed up robust comments made at a news conference in the summer of 2010 about copyright theft by once again stressing the criminality of such activities.

Having previously compared it to “smashing the window at Tiffany’s and reaching in and grabbing what’s in” the store. Biden told Variety magazine, “piracy is outright theft. People are out there blatantly stealing from Americans — stealing their ideas and robbing us of America’s creative energies. There’s no reason why we should treat intellectual property any different than tangible property.”

The White House has been mandated to take a greater role in addressing piracy: A law passed in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush required the establishment of an intellectual property enforcement coordinator, or a so-called ‘IP czar’. Biden has also appeared several times with IP coordinator Victoria Espinel, including the unveiling of a strategic plan in June 2010.

Biden told Variety that his involvement with the piracy issue extended back two decades to when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and that his use of the ‘bully pulpit’ was “really just a continuation of that work.”

According to Biden, the entertainment industry has done a poor job in making the anti-piracy case and needs to do better. “They should be able to come up with an intelligent, original and effective public education campaign targeting this issue. To be honest, I am not certain they have dedicated the appropriate resources to this, and I hope they will.”

Biden disagrees with the suggestion that Hollywood’s effort to increase enforcement is motivated by a desire to protect dying businesses. “The fact is, media companies have already taken significant steps to adapt their business models to keep up with changes in how we watch movies and listen to music,” he said. “Content is being offered to consumers in a variety of different ways that make it easy and cost-effective for people to access legal material. Anyone who does not understand this should simply talk with one of my grandkids.”

Biden said that had been working with senators to draw up legislation “that helps protect property while at the same time respects any potential Constitutional issues. I am hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that is agreeable to all parties.” Biden’s office has been working with studios and record labels and Internet providers to reach some kind of voluntary agreement to establish standards “that provides greater education to those who might be downloading or streaming illegal content.”

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