International Anti-Piracy Caucus Unveils "2009 International Piracy Watch List"

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

International Anti-Piracy Caucus Unveils “2009 International Piracy Watch List”

Washington, D.C.: At a press conference today the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which is chaired by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), unveiled the “2009 International Piracy Watch List”.  In an effort to combat international copyright piracy by calling attention to countries where piracy has reached alarming levels the Caucus announced they will closely monitor the serious problems of copyright piracy in the following five countries: China, Russia, Canada, Spain, and Mexico.

The advent of digital technology holds the promise of a golden age for movies, music, video games and other forms of entertainment.  More new devices for watching, listening to, recording, sharing and saving music and movies have emerged in the last decade than in the previous 100 years.  And these technologies are a key to American economic growth: indeed, the combined copyright industries – movies, home video and television programming, music, books, video games and software – generate more revenues than any other single manufacturing sector, including automobiles and auto parts, aircraft and agriculture.  They are responsible for more than six percent of the nation’s GDP.  The film industry alone has a surplus balance of trade with every country in the world. 

Disturbingly, however, an explosion in piracy and a diminution in copyright protection have accompanied these exciting new advances in entertainment technology.  Organized crime has become heavily involved in foreign DVD and CD piracy.  Criminals are using the same formidable distribution network and resources that were developed for drug trafficking and arms smuggling.  The result, in these and other countries, is a virtual evisceration of the legitimate market for American entertainment.

“In tough economic times it’s more important than ever to safeguard intellectual property,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “American entertainment and software companies create millions of jobs, generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and drive much of our country’s research and development.  Piracy threatens those jobs, those revenues and the value of that research, and we need bipartisan solutions to stop it.”

America is the largest creator, producer, and exporter of copyrighted material.  Industry estimates that global piracy costs U.S. firms over $25 billion in lost sales annually.

“Fostering strong intellectual property protection builds the economies of not only developed nations, like ours, but for any nation striving to achieve a vibrant and growing economy,” said Senator Hatch.  “Conversely, counterfeiting and piracy cripple growth and stifle innovation.  Many do not understand that ideas, inventions, artistic works, and other commercially viable products created out of one’s own mental processes deserve the same protection under the law as any tangible product or piece of real estate.  Unfortunately, some believe that if they find it on the Internet then it must be free. We must stop this destructive mindset.”

Senator Hatch continued, “Today’s release of the 2009 Watch List is a sobering reminder of how pervasive copyright piracy has become in the global IP community. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus to spearhead legislative initiatives to combat piracy and counterfeiting abroad.”

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus intends to focus on copyright piracy problems in China, Russia, Canada, Spain, and Mexico.  These countries stand out because of the scope and depth of their piracy problems, which cost the U.S. copyright industries and the millions of Americans who work in these companies billions of dollars and because piracy in these countries is largely the result of a lack of political will to confront the problem. 

“The creation, production, and export of music, movies, software, and books, make up America’s new ‘assembly line’ of the 21st century,” said Congressman Schiff.  “Just as we don’t allow cars to be stolen off the lots of Ford or GM dealerships, we cannot allow movies, music, and computer programs to be stolen from motion picture studios, recording studios, and software manufactures.  The U.S. copyright industry deserves the same protection under the law.”

Congressman Goodlatte said, “The U.S. is far and away the world's largest producer and exporter of the creative works that entertain, inform and educate the world. However, copyright piracy results in billions of dollars in lost revenue for the U.S. each year and even greater losses to the U.S. economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports. While the U.S. is the world’s leader in intellectual property protections, the problem does not stop at our borders.  Piracy in today’s economy is a global problem.  We must encourage other countries to enact and enforce strong intellectual property laws in order to fully protect America’s inventors and authors, as well as their own.”

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which was originally formed in 2003, is made up of over 70 members of Congress.  The goal of the Caucus is to provide briefings for Congressional delegations traveling 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.