Bloomberg News

Copyright Overhaul Pushed to Protect U.S. Intellectual Property

November 04, 2011

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Entertainment and software industry groups urged Congress to protect their economic health by approving legislation aimed at combating websites that sell illegal copies of movies, music and computer programs.

The publishing, software, film, music and television industries added more than $930 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010, almost 6.4 percent of total gross domestic product, according to a report released in Washington today by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a Washington-based collection of organizations whose members include Apple Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corp.

“The analyses released today, based on U.S. government data, demonstrate the vibrancy of copyright and creativity as an engine for growth,” Steven Metalitz, counsel for the organization, said in a statement. “To preserve and enhance that vibrancy, we must ensure strong legal protection for U.S. creativity, innovation, and ingenuity, both here and in the markets of our trading partners, in both the physical and online world.”

Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, introduced a measure last week aimed at combating “rogue” websites in a bill, H.R. 3261, that would let the U.S. Attorney General seek court orders to block websites based in other countries that steal and sell U.S. products. The measure would also increase criminal penalties for trafficking in counterfeit medicine and military goods.

Concern on Overreaching

Some technology industry groups and lawmakers including Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have objected to elements of the House measure, saying they consider certain aspects overreaching. The Computer & Communications Industry Association, representing companies including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., cautioned against the report, calling for more balanced considerations for copyright bills before Congress.

“Too often we hear about the cost of piracy without also considering the cost to legitimate sectors of the U.S. economy of poorly targeted copyright enforcement measures like the pending Protect IP Act and its even worse companion, H.R. 3261,” said Ed Black, the group’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

He said that “Congress needs to consider the overall economic picture both to the entertainment industry as well as the tech industry and other sectors.”

--Editors: Steve Walsh, Michael Shepard

To contact the reporter on this story: Juliann Francis in Washington at jfrancis31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at Mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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