The International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus – formed in 2003 to call attention to the rampant theft of Intellectual Property, both online and in physical marketplaces – has unveiled the 2014 International Piracy Watch List.
In an effort to fight copyright piracy and call attention to countries where it has reached alarming levels, the Caucus – which is chaired by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – highlighted the high levels of piracy and the lack of legal protections for copyright in the following countries: China, Russia, Switzerland and India. The report also highlights and applauds Italy and the Philippines as countries in transition following the enactment of stronger legal frameworks for the protection of copyright in both nations.
According to the Caucus, the American music, film, software, gaming, and book and journal publishing industries are among America’s top exporters, and millions of jobs depend on their continued international leadership. Americans must not be forced to subsidise the content that others steal. Likewise American businesses should not be forced to compete with foreign companies that cut production costs by using unlicensed software or pirated scientific articles.
In the report, the Caucus also highlighted the important role that private sector plays in reducing copyright infringement, and the issue of ad-supported piracy websites – the appearance of ads on pirate websites generates substantial revenues for these illegal sites, while also lending a false air of legitimacy.
Since the Caucus first highlighted the issue in 2011, a February 2014 study by the Digital Citizens Alliance found that the 600 content theft sites studied generated $227 million in annual revenues through the sale of advertising. The report – Good Money Gone Bad – showed that illegal websites can generate enormous profits through the sale of advertising space, frequently to major U.S. companies. The Caucus also wrote to the major players in the advertising space to encourage them to study the problem, adopt best practices, and operationalise their commitment to keep advertising off of sites dedicated to theft, and recent received an update from those major players (ANA, 4As, and IAB), which details the concrete steps currently under way to evaluate ‘digital ad assurance’ technologies.
“The recognition of an author’s ownership in an original creative work is one of our legal system’s core principles,” said 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.”
Schiff said that whether it is movie makers, musicians, or and app makers, the US 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. “That’s why we started the Watch List – to alert those who are profiting by stealing the hard work of American creators and the countries helping them that we are paying attention and we expect our trading partners to protect intellectual property rights. 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,” he stated.
“This Watch List reminds us of the enormous economic importance of the American copyright industries and the many jobs they create,” said Whitehouse. “We should celebrate our country’s continued success producing movies, music, and software, but also must protect these jobs from digital piracy and other forms of theft.”
“The American music, film, publishing and design industries comprise a significant portion of our nation’s economy,” said Hatch. “They provide unrivalled leadership within the international creative community. Unfortunately we continue to see vast amounts of content on the Internet stolen by digital thieves. The time is ripe for Congress and industry stakeholders to come together with a renewed focus to combat online piracy,” he declared.