Congress Turns Attention to International Piracy

U.S. House and Senate members said Tuesday they are forming a Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, a bipartisan group looking to deal with the problem of piracy and the Bush administration’s efforts to obtain strong intellectual property protections in the context of international trade agreements.

The caucus plans 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.

Co-chairs of the caucus are Senators Gordon Smith (R.-OR) and Joe Biden (D.-DE) and Reps. Bop Goodlatte (R.-VA) and Adam Schiff (D.-CA).

“The rising theft of American intellectual property, through piracy and counterfeiting, has cost American jobs numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and has cost the U.S. government tax revenues and U.S. corporations billions of dollars,” said Biden. “American innovation and creativity need to be protected by our government, just like our personal property, our homes and streets need government protection. This caucus will help us find new ways to reduce the scourge of piracy abroad.”

In an effort to combat international copyright piracy by calling attention to countries where piracy has reached alarming levels, the caucus unveiled it’s 2003 International Piracy Watch List, citing serious problems of copyright piracy in Brazil, China, Pakistan, Russia and Taiwan.

“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,” Goodlatte said. “A vibrant sector of the U.S. economy is at tremendous risk due to widespread piracy of U.S.-made movies, music, software, videogames and other creative works. The caucus will play an important role in defending the rights of creators and distributors to be compensated for the work that they do.”

In an official statement, the caucus said, “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.”

Added Schiff, “America’s greatest trade export — our intellectual property — is under attack both here on our own soil and globally. In my district, the movie and recording industries suffer an immeasurable loss of jobs and economic revenue from the abundant spread of digital piracy. It is my hope that this new caucus will help educate members of Congress on the latest innovations to protect American ingenuity from international piracy.”

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