Leading members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees spoke to reporters Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill about the continuing harm online infringement and counterfeits pose to American jobs and the economy.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, and Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.), were joined on Capitol Hill by representatives from business and labor organizations. They spoke about the impact of online infringement on the American economy. According to estimates, intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion every year, and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.
"Online infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American creators, producers, and businesses billions of dollars and results in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. This theft is unacceptable at any time; it is devastating in our current economic climate," said Leahy. "Protecting American intellectual property on the Internet is not uniquely an industry or labor concern; it is not uniquely a Democrat or Republican concern. It is an American concern, and addressing it is crucial to our economic success and job growth."
"The success of our economy is in part tied to the success of America's intellectual property industries. IP industries provide an estimated 19 million jobs to American workers and account for more than 60% of U.S. exports," said Smith. "Unfortunately, the online theft of America's intellectual property results in billions of dollars in lost revenue and thousands of jobs. From movies and music to software and medicine, IP theft drains our economy and puts lives at risk. We must do more to combat the theft, marketing and distribution of America's intellectual property to ensure that the profits and jobs these industries generate stay here at home. If we can reduce the impact of IP theft on the U.S. economy, we can not only save jobs, we can gain jobs."
"The Internet has regrettably become a cash-cow for the criminals and organized crime cartels who profit from digital piracy and counterfeit products," said Conyers. "Millions of American jobs are at stake because of these crimes, which is why my colleagues and I will be coming together to carefully craft legislation. Congress must act to protect property rights and American jobs by targeting the truly bad actors and their revenue streams, and do so in a way that continues our nation's commitment to due process and freedom of speech."
"It is encouraging that both sides of the Capitol are eager to work to enact stronger IP protections for our nation's authors and inventors. The House Intellectual Property Subcommittee will work in a bipartisan fashion to create new, meaningful IP protections and bolster existing ones at a time when U.S. copyright industries are facing disastrous threats from online theft. I intend to deal with this issue aggressively and will consider all ideas and concerns from interested parties," said Goodlatte. "The intellectual property industry is one of the U.S.'s top exporters and threats to the IP industries are threats to our economy that will affect American jobs."
"The theft of American Intellectual Property not only robs those in the creative chain of adequate compensation, but it also stunts potential for economic growth, cheats our communities out of good paying jobs, and threatens future American innovation," added Berman. "Today I remain as committed to this fight as ever, and I look forward to working with my colleagues -- both Republicans and Democrats to protect American businesses, workers, and innovators."
The members of Congress were joined Monday by Peter Bragdon, the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Columbia Sportswear, and Paul E. Almeida, the President of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. The DPE is a coalition of 23 national unions representing more than four million professional and technical people.
Identifying effective ways to combat online infringement has been the subject of hearings in both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees this year. The Senate held a hearing on February 16, and the House held a hearing on March 14. The House will hold a second hearing on the subject on Wednesday.