Coalition Tells Knock-offs to Knock-it-off

Today, a broad coalition spanning a variety of industries, labor groups, professional organizations, and academia from all corners of the United States descended upon Capitol Hill to get the message out that rogue sites are hurting American companies, laborers, and consumers. The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP) hosted a morning Rogue Sites Briefing and Hill Blitz to demonstrate the loud and far-reaching chorus of support for rogue sites legislation.

The Hill Blitz kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by Mark McKinnon (Arts + Labs), John Spink, Ph.D. (Michigan State University), Paul Almeida (Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO), David Tognotti (Monster Cable Products, Inc.), and Sandra Aistars (Copyright Alliance). The panelists highlighted the abuse by rogue websites and the harm posed to their respective businesses and organizations, while urging Congress to counter widespread  online counterfeiting and piracy.

Paul Almeida and Sandra Aistars, both representing workers involved in creative industries, stressed that online counterfeiting and piracy is not a victimless crime. In fact, well-paying jobs in our most creative and innovative sectors are threatened by those who rip off the ingenuity of creators and innovators. Some of these innovators, like Monster Cable Products, find themselves competing against knock-offs of their very own products, and are forced to re-direct substantial resources otherwise intended for employment or further innovation, into brand protection technologies and services. Dr. John Spink, an expert in anti-counterfeiting business strategy, discussed the challenges in addressing online IP thieves both domestically and internationally.

Prior to the panel discussion, I interviewed Glenda Billerbeck, who lost her friend, Marcia Mooty Bergeron, after Marcia unknowingly consumed counterfeit prescriptions purchased from a rogue site. Marcia was a real person, with a real family who died at the hand of a fake prescription sold by a rogue website only caring to make a buck.

The resounding message which emanated from this discussion is that rogue sites are a plight to American e-commerce. While rogue sites are becoming more sophisticated and widespread, their online criminal activity is not to be tolerated. Congress must act expeditiously to stop this bleeding of American jobs and businesses. Fortunately, all participants identified a viable solution—rogue sites legislation—as an attainable and laudable goal. We are hopeful that the House of Representatives is gearing up to introduce this pressing legislation in the coming days.

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