November 11, 2015

Copyrights Support American Creativity and Jobs

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is holding roundtable panels in Santa Clara and Los Angeles, California, as part of the ongoing copyright review process undertaken by committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).  The copyright review process has resulted in testimony from a hundred stakeholders and expert witnesses during committee hearings in Washington, D.C., and this week’s “listening tour” roundtables will allow additional voices to be heard as part of this critically important process.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long supported strong intellectual property policies to encourage innovation, spur economic growth and create good-paying American jobs.  The various businesses and companies comprising the copyright sector represent a significant portion of America’s intellectual property industries, and current copyright policies have helped make our creative industries one of the strongest components of our national economy.

The Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) commends Chairman Goodlatte for his efforts to ensure that all relevant voices are heard by taking the copyright review process outside the “Beltway” and into the communities and towns where many of our creative industries have flourished.  From Nashville to Hollywood to Silicon Valley, American creators and innovators are producing world-class products and artistic works that are enriching lives throughout the world.

Copyright industries produce the entertainment, software and educational materials that consumers across the globe crave, and contribute greatly to our nation’s GDP and balance of trade.  In fact, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) 2014 Report, America’s copyright industries – film, music, software and publishing – contributed $1.1 trillion in value added to U.S. GDP, accounting for nearly 8% of the total U.S. economy in 2013.  In addition, total copyright-related employment accounted for 11.2 million workers comprising 8.26% of all U.S. employment, with workers earning salaries that exceeded the U.S. average annual wage by approximately 19%.  And, the sales of copyright related products in overseas markets totaled $156.3 billion and exceeded sales in other major U.S. industry sectors; including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and aerospace.

Clearly, America’s copyright industries are an economic asset that deserves the appropriate policies and protections to fulfill the vision of our Founding Fathers when they wrote in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which authorized Congress:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their Respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Of course, anything that has such demonstrated value is also a ripe target for those who seek to profit illegally from the hard work of others.  Criminal enterprises have increasingly turned to the theft of copyrighted material, both in the online and physical marketplaces, to reap obscene profits while producing nothing of value.  Consumers who fall victim to these scams are also at risk of having their personal and financial information exposed to unscrupulous thieves who use such information to further enrich themselves and put American families and jobs at risk.  That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce/GIPC support  efforts to combat the theft of intellectual property, especially those initiatives undertaken by industry voluntarily to reduce the rampant theft of America’s films, music, software and books.

The current U.S. copyright system helps ensure that all those who work in copyright related industries – from the songwriters and authors to film-set construction workers and performers, and all the related trades – are fairly compensated for their labors.  We stand with our industry partners such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) who are providing the committee with real-world examples of the important role copyright industries play in cities and towns across our great nation, and look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Goodlatte and members of the House Judiciary Committee to ensure that the vision our Founders enshrined in our Constitution continues to be reflected in the creative and innovative works that have helped make our nation a leading economic power.

Frank Cullen is executive director of U.S. intellectual property policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).

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