International Anti-Piracy Caucus Unveils "2011 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 Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), unveiled the “2011 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: Canada, China, Russia, Spain, and Ukraine. To read the full report, click here.

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.

Senator Whitehouse said, “Our trading partners must stop looking the other way when American intellectual property is stolen in plain sight.  They must encourage fair economic competition rather than permit online and physical piracy and counterfeiting to flourish within their borders.  If they do not, our nation will pay the price in reduced American jobs, dampened American creativity, and, through reductions in licensing fees and corporate profits, cuts into the American tax base.”

Recent industry estimates point to piracy rates in excess of 90% in some countries, with annual losses to copyright industries in the billions.  Even more alarmingly, that global piracy rates on the Internet are estimated at 95%, with piracy rates in some countries such as Russia and China as high as 99%.

“Today’s global markets are inseparably connected to the Internet,”said Senator Hatch.  “While it has given consumers more choices with access to more goods and services than ever before, it has also caused online theft to thrive as well. We must come together to combat this threat in a truly systematic and coordinated manner.  The Country Watch List is a much-needed tool in that fight to stop online and copyright piracy.”

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus will focus on copyright piracy problems in Canada, China, Russia, Spain, and Ukraine.  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.  Recently, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that U.S. businesses lost nearly $50 billion in 2009 due to intellectual property violations in China alone.

Congressman Goodlatte said,“The ever-increasing problem of 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 our economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports.  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.”

Last year, the Caucus highlighted that pirate websites rely on payment processors to facilitate transactions. This year, the Caucus is focusing in on sites that are gaining traffic by illegally providing copyrighted files and are able to generate revenues by placing ads on their pages. 

“American entrepreneurs invest their time, money and talent into creating the next must-have music, film and technology, and justly expect to be compensated by the market, both at home and overseas,” Congressman Schiff said. “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. We are calling on responsible advertisers, search engines, internet service providers, and other parts of the internet ecosystem to work with us to protect the hard work of American creators from piracy.”

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 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.