The FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) recently passed by Congress includes the creation of an "Intellectual Property Czar" to strengthen America's intellectual property rights throughout the world. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) proposed the creation of a similar office in the Fortifying America's Intellectual Property Rights (FAIR) Act (H.R. 5117), introduced in September 2004 with Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Mark Foley (R-FL).
H.R. 4818 creates the new lead post as a coordinator of the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC) - an arm of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office - and dedicates specific funding to stem the scourge of global piracy. The bill also establishes an Office of International Intellectual Property Enforcement in the State Department and sanctions a U.S. Trade Representative official to negotiate for high standards of intellectual property rights protection within trade agreements.
"I am pleased that Congress has acted on these proposed reforms. The bill contains concrete measures that will protect American jobs and defend a vulnerable segment of America's exports in world commerce," Congressman Schiff said. "These streamlining efforts will enable a more effective enforcement of our intellectual property rights at home and abroad."
The United States is the world's largest creator and exporter of copyrighted materials, accounting for over five percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and adding $531 billion to the U.S. economy. In turn, international markets are a strong export base that sustains American jobs. However, this important sector of the U.S. economy is under attack due to widespread piracy - the unauthorized reproduction and sale of U.S.-made movies, music, software and other creative works.
Important advances in the effort to curtail piracy abroad have been made through free trade agreements with other countries. While the USTR is charged with identifying countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, their resources in this area are currently limited. These efforts will be even more effective when these reforms are made.
Last April, the heads of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Entertainment Software Alliance (ESA) testified during a Senate hearing on intellectual property enforcement in support of reforms similar to the FAIR Act.
The motion picture industry estimates losses due to global piracy amount to $3.5 billion annually, not including illegal downloading. In Russia, nine out of ten DVDs sold are counterfeit copies. Globally, two in five music recordings are pirate copies, with annual world-wide pirate sales of music estimated between $4-5 billion. The software industry estimates losses of over $13 billion due to worldwide piracy in 2002.
Congressman Schiff is a Co-Chair of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, a bipartisan group of 65 leading House and Senate lawmakers dedicated to working with America's international trade partners to secure the enactment of strong copyright laws and the vigilant enforcement of those laws. Congressman Schiff is also a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees. He represents California's 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.