Piracy . . . Not a Victimless Crime
DATE: June 18, 2004
In the aftermath of 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror, we find ourselves living in a changed world, marked by new threats.
Consistent with emerging threats to our security, is growing evidence of the link between the sale of counterfeit consumer goods, in many cases pirated movies and music, and terrorist financing.
America is the largest creator, producer, and exporter of copyrighted material. More new devices for watching, listening to, recording, sharing and saving music and movies have emerged in the last decade than in the previous 100 years. And these technologies are a key to American economic growth: indeed, the combined copyright industries - movies, home video and television programming, music, books, video games and software - generate more revenues than any other single manufacturing sector. They are responsible for more than five percent of the nation's GDP.
It is tempting to think of crime involving piracy, or intellectual property theft, as victimless, but this is simply untrue. Piracy denies those individuals who have invested in the creation and production of these goods their proper return, thereby undermining creativity and innovation and costing businesses hundred of billions of dollars every year.
The U.S. International Trade Commission calculates that counterfeiting and piracy caused industry losses of $450 billion in 2000, an increase of more than 400% since the early 1990's.
And now there is a growing link between piracy and organized crime.
Organized crime has become heavily involved in foreign DVD and CD piracy. Criminals are using the same formidable distribution network and means that were developed for drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
Evidence indicates that a diverse group of terrorist entities, including Al Qaeda and Hezbollah derive income from piracy, ultimately using the money to fund everything from their lifestyles to their terrorist operations.
Faced with a crackdown on their traditional means of financing, evidence of our successful efforts to cut back their flow of funds, they are now turning to drug trafficking, credit card fraud, counterfeiting and piracy.
A new report by Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, states that counterfeit goods and intellectual property piracy are "becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups".
Knowing of this growing economic and security threat, I led a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers last Fall in launching the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which is dedicated to working with America's international trade partners to secure the enactment of strong copyright laws and the vigilant enforcement of those laws.
A vibrant sector of the U.S. economy is at tremendous risk as is our own national security. I remain committed to ensuring that writers, musicians and other creators and distributors are compensated for the work that they do, and that consumers around the world are not unknowingly funding those who wish to do us harm.