United States of Recovery

Though each star on the flag is identical in size, shape, and color, it is hardly a stretch to say that in reality, the states that those stars represent are not so. One of the real beauties of America is the diversity amongst our states. We all may say the pledge to one single flag, but we nurture and grow each of our individual cultures, governments, and economies. With the tough economic times that our country currently faces, today more than ever, our states must foster the industries that provide jobs for their citizens and revenues for their localities. In Louisiana, this might mean protecting the music or entertainment sectors, or for Massachusetts this could mean investing in science and engineering. Despite the unique ways in which states derive their economies, each of them shares a common problem: the theft of their creative and innovative products, their ingenuity, their intellectual property (IP).

Indeed, the theft of America’s IP knows no boundaries. Counterfeiters and pirates are no longer restricted to the street alleys and corners; they have opened storefronts on the Internet, with sophisticated designs meant to pass as legitimate businesses. Operators of these sites, called rogue sites, have managed to steal from nearly every creative and innovative industry in all of our states: sports, technologies, pharmaceuticals, music, manufacturing, clothing, movies, cosmetics, automotive, publishing…. You name it, rogue sites have stolen (and profited) from it.

Rogue sites have not only stolen the property of the businesses in your state, but they have also stolen jobs and endangered your citizens. These websites threaten the employment of more than 19 million Americans working in IP-intensive industries. Studies show that these industries pay 60% higher wages and invest the most in research and development (R&D). In Michigan alone, $16.7 billion was spent on R&D, with more than $800 million in research undertaken by the University of Michigan. Additionally, purveyors of rogue sites aren’t bashful about making a quick buck even if that means risking consumers’ health and safety by duping them into buying dangerously defective products. Why in the world should we allow our jobs and innovation to be stolen and our consumers to be put in harm’s way?

Fortunately, Congress has recognized the necessity to remedy the growing scourge of rogue sites with the introduction of the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. This legislation will give enforcement agencies the necessary tools to cut off rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace, allowing our creative industries—no matter how diverse—to keep employing, creating, and benefitting our consumers.

As we look forward to the future, we must recognize that the strength of our nation is reliant on the sum of its parts. A strong nation means strong states, ones that provide an environment that facilitates and harvests America’s innovative spirit. Doing so will help revive our economic growth and our competitive advantage. We can’t wait any longer. Congress needs to act on rogue sites legislation today to protect consumers and save American jobs.

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