International Anti-Piracy Caucus Unveils "2010 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 “2010 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.
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.
“International piracy of American intellectual property weakens a segment of our economy that long has supported innovation and great American jobs,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Congress must work on a bipartisan basis to protect the creative industries and the jobs they support. The United States has been on the losing end of the largest theft of intellectual property in history. This must be stopped, and soon.”
America is the largest creator, producer, and exporter of copyrighted material. In 2009, industry estimates that global piracy costs U.S. firms over $25 billion in lost sales annually.
“Our nation and our economy is what it is today, because of the ingenuity and ideas of our people – ideas that have been safeguarded through strong intellectual property rights protections. But, as the 2010 Watch List report makes clear, those very ideas are increasingly at risk from piracy and counterfeiting abroad,” said Senator Hatch. “What is stunning is that piracy isn’t just emanating from countries like Russia and China, but also from Canada and Mexico, our largest trading partners. Now is the time for policymakers to come together to tackle this global threat that cripples economic growth and stifles the innovation that has made our nation great.”
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus once again focuses on copyright piracy problems in Canada, China, Mexico, Russia and Spain. These countries make the Watch List because of the scope and depth of their piracy problems, which cost U.S. copyright industries and 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. These same countries were included on the 2009 Watch List. However, in the last year, no meaningful progress has been made to enforce intellectual property rights.
“Intellectual property must be protected if our economy is to thrive -- and enforcing these protections does not stop at the water’s edge,” said Congressman Adam Schiff. “American entrepreneurs invest their time, money and sweat into creating the next must-have music, film and technology, and justly expect to be compensated by the market. To assure the continued creation and distribution of music, movies, software and books, from which we all benefit, we must ensure that our artists, creators and producers are paid for their work, and take much stronger action to ensure countries on the anti-piracy watch list are forced to take piracy seriously.”
Congressman Goodlatte said, “It is tempting to think of crimes involving piracy, or intellectual property theft, as victimless, but this is simply untrue. Piracy denies individuals who have invested in the creation and production of these goods a return on their investment thus reducing the incentive to invest in innovative products and new creative works. The end result is the loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the U.S. each year and even greater losses to the U.S. economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports. Not only is the problem of piracy plaguing U.S. creators but it has become a global epidemic. 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.”
Additionally, the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus highlighted the problem of websites, which are hosted overseas, that provide access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted works made by U.S. creators. China’s Baidu, Canada’s IsoHunt, Ukraine’s mp3fiesta, Germany’s RapidShare, Luxembourg’s RMX4U.com and Sweden’s The Pirate Bay were identified as priority sites. These sites are among the most heavily visited websites worldwide.
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which was originally formed in 2003, is made up of 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.