The US Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which is chaired by Congressmen Adam Schiff and Bob Goodlatte, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch, has unveiled the 2012 International Piracy Watch List. In an effort to fight copyright piracy and call attention to countries where it has reached alarming levels, the Caucus highlighted the high levels of piracy and the lack of legal protections for copyright in the following five countries: China, Russia, Italy, Switzerland and Ukraine. The report also highlights Canada and Spain as countries in transition following the enactment of stronger legal frameworks for the protection of copyright in both nations.
The Caucus notes that copyright dependent industries – film, home video and television programming, music, books, video games, and software – play an enormous role in the American economy. According to a report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance, core copyright industries employed 5.1 million Americans in 2010 in jobs that paid 27 per cent more than the average wage. These industries remain some of our most internationally competitive, collectively ranking as the second largest exporting sector in the US. However, as the Anti-Piracy Caucus Watch List highlights, they frequently do not compete on a level playing field due to the rampant levels of piracy in many major international markets.
The 2012 Watch List also highlights progress made in engaging cooperative private sector efforts to reduce piracy. In 2011, the Caucus noted the frequent appearance of advertising for legitimate brands on rogue websites dedicated to providing access to pirated material. These advertisements lend a false air of legitimacy to rogue sites while helping to subsidise their operations. The Caucus called on players in the online advertising ecosystem to take steps to prevent legitimate ads from appearing on rogue sites. In the 2012 Watch List, the co-chairs welcomed the recent release of a ‘best practices’ document by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies urging their members to take affirmative steps to avoid the placement of advertising on pirate sites.
“Whether it is movie makers, music producers and app makers to entrepreneurs creating the newest must-have gadget, our economy is based upon the principle that property should be respected – not stolen – and this right does not end at the water’s edge. This is not only fair, but it is good economics,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “That’s why we started the Watch List – to alert those pirates and the countries helping them that we are paying attention and we expect our trading partners to protect the intellectual property rights of creators. Our creative industries employ millions of Americans and are some of our most competitive exports. All we want is a level playing field where all nations live up to their obligations to protect intellectual property and enforce existing laws.”
“The recognition of an author’s ownership in an original creative work is one of our legal system’s core principles,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte. “If we allow people to take that work without paying for it, artists will no longer have any financial incentive to create new movies, software, video games, books and music. The end result is the loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the US each year and even greater losses to our economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports. While the US is the world’s leader in intellectual property protections, the problem does not stop at our borders. The only way to ensure the full protection of Americans’ creative works is to actively encourage other countries around the globe to enact and enforce strong intellectual property laws.”
“Innovation, hard work, and creativity long have fuelled the American dream and are the reason for the continued worldwide demand for American movies, music, books, and software,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Theft of our intellectual property undercuts the hard work of Americans in these industries and the US economy as a whole. Our trading partners must ensure that American intellectual property is appropriately protected.”
“I wish it could be said that the 2012 International Anti-Piracy Watch List contained some promising news,” said Senator Orrin Hatch. “Unfortunately, this year’s Watch List confirms that copyright piracy continues to spread at an alarming pace. Our copyright laws are designed to encourage the creation of new works that inspire and delight us. Conversely, IP piracy takes something for nothing – representing the largest transfer of wealth in history. Over time our artists may simply choose not to share their talents and creations with us. And who can blame them, especially if we cannot protect their intellectual property rights? This is a global cause worthy of our best efforts.”
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which was originally formed in 2003, is made up of over 65 members of Congress. The goal of the Caucus is to provide briefings for Congressional delegations travelling to countries with significant piracy problems, staff and member briefings and forums on international intellectual property protection and piracy, demonstrations of new technologies and products designed to improve consumers’ entertainment experiences and to reduce piracy and to work closely with the committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate on related hearings and legislation.
Commenting on the Watch List’s publication, Michael O’Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs of the Motion Picture Association of America, (MPAA), noted that the motion picture and television industry supports the jobs of 2.1 million creators, makers and other workers in the United States and millions of others across the globe. “For the United States, the entertainment we deliver is a critical driver of US exports, consistently generating a positive balance of trade and entertaining audiences everywhere. As technology evolves and we transform the way we enjoy content, it remains important to protect our exports and ensure that hard working creators are compensated for their work. We believe governments around the world share our admiration of the original work created by the film and television community, and we hope all countries identified today will take the important steps necessary to protect this work from online theft and foster legitimate online commerce,” he declared.
“As we continue to strive for an Internet that works for everyone, we thank Senators Whitehouse and Hatch and Congressmen Schiff and Goodlatte for their commitment to protecting creative content. Together with the help of governments and the private sector, we can protect the rights of creators and makers, keep content safe and continually improve the viewing experience for consumers.”