If Not Balanced IP Can Do More Harm Than Good To Innovation

BY CCIA Staff
September 30, 2009

Washington – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce held its Intellectual Property Summit today that included a barrage of questionable numbers about “piracy” losses from the entertainment industry that cast IP theft as the most dangerous threat to our economy. Sadly, no statistics were offered on the cost of frivolous IP lawsuits or the economic contributions from industries dependent on fair use and other copyright exceptions.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association and Public Knowledge are releasing this joint statement to reflect our concerns that our laws can be either a boon or a damper on innovation, and it depends on if you get the balance right. We must be careful to not hinder the next generation of technology by enshrining the last one.

The following statement can be attributed to Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge:

“The big media companies for years have claimed that ‘piracy’ will restrict their business activities. In 2002, Viacom said it would not broadcast high-definition content without the technological ‘broadcast flag’ content protection. Obviously, they went ahead. Today, the situation hasn’t changed. The big media companies earn hundreds of millions of dollars from their products yet continue to run to the government in an effort to restrict innovation or stifle competition. We need tech policies that recognize the benefits to everyone of innovation, and intellectual property policies that recognize the benefits to everyone of creativity. The big media companies offer neither.”

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“There is a way to punish willful illegal infringers, while not unduly restricting pioneers. What we need is not some rally to expand copyright enforcement of fragile and complex laws, but a deeper discussion on how balanced copyright protection can boost the economy. Not enough copyright protection discourages artists, but too much can crush innovation.

“The tech and Internet industries rely on sensible IP regimes – just like pure copyright-related industries – and contribute to the economy and have a role to play in growing the economy. The inventive processes key to tech companies require an interactive reliance on other companies and technologies to provide the chips, the operating system or software upon which they base their next innovation. Enforcing IP ahead of reforming IP risks innovative businesses being crushed before they make it out of the garage or dorm room.”

Additional Background:

Using the same World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) methodology that a 2003-2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance study used, a 2007 CCIA report showed that industries dependent on fair use and other copyright exceptions made an even larger contribution to the U.S. economy than the “copyright” industries. Our study found one sixth of the US economy and one in eight jobs depend on fair use and other copyright exceptions.

 

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