Rogue Site Roulette: A Gamble on Jobs We Just Can’t Take

Yesterday, the FightOnlineTheft coalition, which consists of a variety of voices from both industry and labor, took their show of support for rogue sites legislation directly to the House Judiciary Committee.

In the presence of Chairman Lamar Smith, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Steve Chabot (R-OH), representatives from a huge array of companies and associations one-by-one discussed how rogue sites specifically affect their jobs, businesses, and consumer’s wellbeing and expressed the absolute necessity for enactment of rogue sites legislation, like the PROTECT IP and Stop Online Piracy Act.

This event demonstrated the broad and far-reaching coalition behind PROTECT IP and SOPA. Booths displayed counterfeit goods ranging from baseball hats to jeans to DVDs to extension cords to pharmaceuticals to language learning software to cigarettes to golf balls, while nearly 20 speakers hailed from the AFL-CIO, Harley Davidson, Directors Guild of America, Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Discovery Institute, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and Underwriters Laboratories, just to name a few. Those in the room represented just a small fraction of the nearly 400 companies and associations from every state in the nation, 60+ industries, scores of labor organizations, and dozens of elected officials who have called on Congress to do something about the online theft of intellectual property.

In his opening remarks to a room packed with Hill staff, representatives, and loads of counterfeit goods, the GIPC’s President and CEO, David Hirschmann, dubbed the House Judiciary as the “Jobs Committee,” which was the prevailing sentiment expressed by those in the room.

Rosetta Stone, a Virginia-based language learning software company with nearly 1,000 employees, said that “at a time when the U.S. economy— and U.S. jobs— are increasingly dependent on ideas and innovation, it is essential that protections be put in place against theft and piracy so that the Internet will not be a safe haven for foreign counterfeiters who deceive American consumers and steal American jobs.”

While jobs are threatened on one hand, benefits for workers are at risk of being cut as well. Labor representatives expressed concern about how rogue sites can steal from their pensions. More specifically, Mark Walpole, a camera assistant and member of IATSE Local #600 said that “my entire family’s health insurance, and my retirement, is solely based on the number of hours I can work in a year. Decreased reinvestment from studios means decreased quality of life for me, and my family.”

“Counterfeits kill jobs,” said Jack Stohlman of Eli Lilly, “but they can also kill people. Today, there are thousands of fake online pharmacies advertising drugs on the Internet that pose a real danger to Americans. It is time to address this unchecked crime against public health.”

Jobs. Businesses. Health. What’s next for rogue sites to target? Online counterfeiting and piracy takes from companies, takes from employees, takes from consumers, but gives nothing of any value. We thank Chairman Smith and members of the House Judiciary for proactively tackling the issue of mass theft of intellectual property head-on with the Stop Online Piracy Act.

We believe that this overwhelming chorus of support for rogue sites legislation, combined with the recently released Managers Amendment to H.R. 3261, will help bring this much-needed legislation to the finish line and will help ensure that the preservation and creation of American jobs remain a focal point of the 112th Congress.

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