03.10.09

Schiff Calls on President to Help Economy by Protecting Copyright Based Goods and Services

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff Calls on President to Help Economy by Protecting Copyright Based Goods and Services

Washington, D.C. – Recognizing that new technology is making it increasingly easier for thieves to illegally reproduce and sell copyrighted goods and services, Congressman Adam Schiff, Co-Chair of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus sent a letter to President Obama today requesting he act to protect this vital sector of our economy.  The letter highlighted the fact that copyrighted goods and services account for $100 billion a year in exports but have come under increasing attack by international pirates selling them illegally on the black market. The letter was cosigned by the other Co-Chairs of the caucus, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

“In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, a crucial component of our nation’s competitive strength is the creation of copyright-based goods and services,” the co-chairs wrote in a letter to the President.  “This reality is even clearer now as the American automobile industry, once the prime example of 20th century American ingenuity and prowess in manufacturing exports, stands on the brink of collapse.  By contrast, the American ‘assembly line’ of the 21st century is made up of the creation, production, and export of recorded music, motion pictures, software products, and books, accounting for 6% of our nation’s GDP.  Indeed, the U.S. copyright industry is one of the few bright spots in our economy and will serve as a key cornerstone in the effort to rebuild our nation.”

The full text of the letter is below.


March 10, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

As Co-Chairs of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, a bipartisan and bicameral group comprised of 70 members of the United States Congress, we urge you to ensure the protection of a vital sector of our economy.
 
In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, a crucial component of our nation’s competitive strength is the creation of copyright-based goods and services.  This reality is even clearer now as the American automobile industry, once the prime example of 20th century American ingenuity and prowess in manufacturing exports, stands on the brink of collapse.  By contrast, the American “assembly line” of the 21st century is made up of the creation, production, and export of recorded music, motion pictures, software products, and books, accounting for 6% of our nation’s GDP.  Indeed, the U.S. copyright industry is one of the few bright spots in our economy and will serve as a key cornerstone in the effort to rebuild our nation.

International markets are vital to this new cornerstone of our economy, with foreign sales and exports of copyrighted materials exceeding $100 billion per year and accounting for 50% of the revenues of these industries.  This strong export base sustains well-paid American jobs, from set designers to makeup artists in Los Angeles to book editors in New York; from musicians in Nashville to software developers in Seattle.  Ensuring the continued growth and prosperity of our copyright industries must be a central component of our national economic policy as our nation struggles to stave off a long and deep recession.   

Unfortunately, this vibrant sector of the U.S. economy is at great risk due to widespread international piracy – the unauthorized reproduction, distribution and sale of American made copyrighted goods.  While these industries continue to develop a broad range of content and innovative ways to deliver that content to consumers, the absence of adequate copyright laws and enforcement in the online environment in many countries is undermining many of the evolving online business models of these creative industries.

Pirates offering and distributing pirated products can now easily access almost any part of the world in the increasingly globalized marketplace.  Consequently, the U.S. copyright industries face the daunting task of trying to enforce their legal rights in an online world where borders and distances have decreasing practical significance, undermining the viability of these critical industries and exacerbating our international trade deficit. 

Sustaining and expanding the overseas sale of American copyright-based goods and services should be a national objective of the highest importance and we strongly urge you to direct your Administration to establish as a high priority combating copyright piracy abroad.  Several important tools, such as the United States Trade Representative’s annual evaluation of intellectual property rights protection by our trading partners, are at your disposal and should be used aggressively against countries which fail to provide adequate and effective intellectual property protection of American copyrighted goods and services.  Last year, Congress adopted a number of new laws designed to strengthen our country’s ability to fight the theft of intellectual property, most notably the “PRO-IP” bill.  During the 111th Congress, we will be considering additional measures, including trade-specific legislation, to reduce the theft of U.S. intellectual property around the world.

Piracy is no longer the province of teenagers downloading songs from peer-to-peer networks.  Instead, it has become a multibillion dollar challenge to our economy – a challenge that we must meet.  We stand ready to work with you and your Administration to achieve this goal. 

Sincerely,

 


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
                                          
Senator Orrin G. Hatch

Rep. Adam B. Schiff

Rep. Bob Goodlatte