Hollywood Congressman Goes Global to Nix Piracy

Policy Fugue by Kenneth Corbin (bio)

Tracking the loveless marriage of technology and government

Rep. Howard Berman took advantage of the two-week recess in Congress to hold a field hearing on copyright in the digital age on his home turf in Van Nuys, Calif.

With Hollywood as his constituency, Berman has a keen interest in attaching his name to legislative efforts to curb digital piracy by shoring up the country’s intellectual property laws.

Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, announced the launch of new campaign at Monday’s hearing, pledging to partner with foreign policymakers to develop a coordinated strategy to take the fight against piracy global.

Hard numbers are difficult to come by when trying to measure the impact of digital theft, and critics of the often heavy-handed tactics of the entertainment industry in its effort to defend its intellectual property call them overstated.

Nevertheless, Berman floated figures from several groups, including the representatives of the movie and music industries quantifying the losses. In 2007, copyright infringement is blamed for $18.3 billion in trade losses, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tallies 750,000 jobs lost each year due to the counterfeit trade.

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