White House touts anti-piracy strategy

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The White House is promising to follow through on its vow to get tough on global piracy.

In a report detailing how the Obama administration plans to deal with Hollywood’s most vexing problem, Victoria Espinel, who holds the title of U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, outlined more than 30 steps on how to toughen up when it comes to protecting intellectual property.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, the main lobbying arm for the studios, hailed the plan as ‘an important step in combating intellectual property theft and protecting the millions of jobs and businesses that rely so heavily on copyrights, patents and trademarks and help drive the American economy.’


Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, added that report is a ‘welcome step toward reversing the dangerous trajectory that has endangered America’s creative community. Addressing the problem of intellectual property theft in a meaningful way is essential to enhancing our global competitiveness and protecting American innovation.’

Some of Espinel’s steps seem to be fairly routine, such as better coordination between law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels and developing a database to track piracy investigations. Others seem kind of obvious, like making sure that the government itself isn’t buying and using counterfeit products.

However, there are some recommendations here that could have teeth. For example, Espinel advocates adding law enforcement personnel with backgrounds in intellectual property theft to countries ‘in which intellectual property enforcement is a priority.’ In other words, send more bodies to China and Russia.


Another proposal: working with foreign governments to crack down on foreign-based websites that engage in piracy.

Let’s hope the measures advocated here and the motivations behind them are easier to execute in practice than they are to understand on paper. In her letter to the White House and Congress, Espinel wrote: ‘Intellectual property laws and rights provide certainty and predictability for consumers and producers in the exchange of innovative and creative products, and for investors shifting capital to their development. Where there are insufficient resources, ability, or political will to appropriately enforce these rights, exchanges between investors, producers and consumers may be inefficient, corrupt or even dangerous.’

We think that translates to creativity is good and theft is bad.

-- Richard Verrier