International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus Unveils "2014 International Piracy Watch List"

Washington, DC –Today, the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus, which is chaired by Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 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 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. To read the full report, please click here.

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 subsidize 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, titled 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 operationalize 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 underway to evaluate “digital ad assurance” technologies.  To read the full correspondence, click here for the Caucus letter and response.

“Whether it is movie makers, musicians, or and app makers, our 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,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “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.”

“The recognition of an author’s ownership in an original creative work is one of our legal system’s core principles,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). “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 U.S. each year and even greater losses to our 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. 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.”

“This Watch List reminds us of the enormous economic importance of the American copyright industries and the many jobs they create,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said.  “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 Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).  "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.In my view, this cooperative effort is best achieved through a voluntary, self-regulatory framework.” 

About the Caucus:The International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus was originally formed in 2003 to call attention to the rampant theft of Intellectual Property, both online and in physical marketplaces, and to call attention to the very real economic impacts in the United States. Since its founding, the Caucus has shined a spotlight on nations and actors who are failing to meet their obligations to protect intellectual property. 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.