05.17.07

International Anti-Piracy Caucus Unveils "2007 International Piracy Watch List"

Washington, D.C.: At a press conference today the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which is chaired by Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), and Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), unveiled the “2007 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, Mexico, Canada, and Malaysia.

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 five 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.

“On an individual level, copyright infringement is nothing less than high-tech shoplifting,” said Congressman Schiff.  “In the aggregate, it can destroy whole industries.  There is no difference between stealing a DVD from a store and selling a pirated CD on the street or uploading it to the Internet.  The countries on this list are not doing enough to stop thieves from robbing American industry, and this has to change.  We must take action to ensure these countries are forced to take piracy seriously – American jobs depend on it.”

“When somebody breaks into your home and takes your belongings, we call it burglary.  When somebody holds you up on the street and takes your wallet, we call it robbery.  And, when somebody steals your idea and creation, we call it theft – plain and simple,” said Senator Biden.  “Unfortunately – not all countries see it that way and theft of U.S. intellectual property is all too commonplace, which costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year and threatens the creative mind.  And with new digital and recording technologies coming out at warp speed, it will only get worse unless we step up our pressure on the offending countries.”

America is the largest creator, producer, and exporter of copyrighted material.  Industry estimates that global piracy costs U.S. firms $18 billion in lost sales annually.

“American innovation is one of our strongest advantages,” Senator Smith said. “Stopping the hemorrhage of U.S. revenue is critical to successful economic relationships with other countries.  If Russia and China want to move their economies forward, they too should crack down on intellectual property theft.”

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus intends to focus on copyright piracy problems in China and Russia.  These two 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. 

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.  In addition, the contribution of the American copyright industry to the strength of the overall American economy is significant.  A vibrant sector of the U.S. economy is at tremendous risk due to widespread piracy of U.S.-made movies, music, software, videogames, books, and other creative works.  We must work with our international trade partners to secure the enactment of strong copyright laws and the vigilant enforcement of those laws. ”

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which was formed in 2003 by Senators Smith and Biden and Representatives Schiff and Goodlatte, 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.