11/10/2011 10:32 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
This week, noted First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams wrote that rogue sites legislation in the House will protect free speech. This follows a letter Abrams wrote in May that affirmed that rogue sites legislation in the Senate upholds the First Amendment.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate would, if passed, target foreign rogue sites that knowingly and deliberately engage in the illegal distribution of stolen content, including movies and television shows, for profit. The legislation will preserve the 2.2 million jobs of American workers who depend on the film and television industry.
On Monday, Abrams sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers reaffirming that the Stop Online Piracy Act in no way imperils the First Amendment. He wrote,
“Any legislative efforts to limit what appears on the Internet, or to punish those who post materials on it, requires the closest scrutiny to assure that First Amendment rights are not being compromised. That is true of all limits on speech, and it is no less true of the Internet. But the Internet neither creates nor exists in a law-free zone, and copyright violations on the Internet are no more protected than they are elsewhere.
“The notion that adopting legislation to combat the theft of intellectual property on the Internet threatens freedom of expression and would facilitate, as one member of the House of Representatives recently put it, ‘the end of the Internet as we know it,’ is thus insupportable. Copyright violations have never been protected by the First Amendment and have been routinely punished wherever they occur, including the Internet. This proposed legislation is not inconsistent with the First Amendment; it would protect creators of speech, as Congress has done since this Nation was founded, by combating its theft.”
Abrams wrote the letter on behalf of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Motion Picture Association of America.
Abrams also concluded that the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate upholds the principles of free speech. In May, he wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Charles Grassley, and Senator Orrin Hatch that the PROTECT IP bill follows established free speech laws.
11/09/2011 10:28 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on its investigation into counterfeit electronic parts in the Department of Defense supply chain. The defense industry is very susceptible to counterfeit parts because many defense systems rely on electronic parts that are no longer produced by the original manufacturer. This hearing illustrated the importance of passing rogue sites legislation to further protect our military and consumers from purchasing counterfeit goods.
Rogue sites legislation, the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House, will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books, movies and music.
In March, the committee began an investigation into the defense supply chain—including defense contractors and subcontractors—about the unknowing purchase of counterfeit components for such things as aircraft and missile systems, often through the Internet. So far, it has found over 1 million suspect counterfeit electronic parts that were purchased. More than 70% of the counterfeit parts originated in China.
At the hearing, Chairman Carl Levin said, “The systems we rely on for national security and the protection of our military men and women depend on the performance and reliability of small, highly sophisticated electronic components.” He added, “The failure of a single electronic part can leave a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine vulnerable at the worst possible time. A flood of counterfeit electronic parts has made it a lot harder to have confidence that won’t happen.”
And Ranking Member John McCain stated, “These counterfeit parts threaten the safety and mission readiness of our armed forces because they are unreliable. They may work for a short time, but we do not know for how long, how well, and what will happen when they fail.”
As this hearing showed, foreign rogue sites are a danger to our national defense and our brave military men and women in uniform. Rogue sites also hurt our economy and cost us jobs. Senator McCain is a cosponsor of the PROTECT IP Act, part of a bipartisan coalition of 39 senators who have signed up as cosponsors to the bill that is sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy. The legislation will help target foreign sites including those that sell counterfeit military parts.
Back in July, The Daily Caller published an article by Bob Calvert that listed the important reasons to pass the PROTECT IP Act. He wrote,
“In January 2010, a U.S. Department of Commerce study of the military component supply chain for Defense Department agencies found that the number of counterfeit electronics entering the system increased from 3,868 incidents to 9,356 between 2005 and 2008. The study was conducted because Defense Department officials were worried that more and more counterfeit and defective electronics were finding their way into the Pentagon’s vast supply chain in ways that could affect the reliability of weapons. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality that we must confront. This situation is confounded by the availability of counterfeit products through rogue websites.
Rogue websites steal American intellectual property and are dedicated to trafficking counterfeit products and digital theft. They dupe consumers, steal our jobs and threaten the vibrant Internet marketplace. If given the opportunity, rogue websites will sell military components and electronics to make a quick buck.
Fortunately, Congress is taking steps to provide new tools against these illicit activities and help protect the jobs of hardworking Americans and the vitality of our creative and innovative sectors. The PROTECT IP Act would cut off rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace by disrupting the flow of Internet traffic and money to the site and its operators. Congress should act to protect American jobs, creativity and consumers by enacting this legislation without delay.”
11/08/2011 13:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Today, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia spoke at a press conference in Richmond to highlight the economic benefits of film production in Virginia and how to preserve jobs by passing rogue sites legislation. Stephen Spielberg’s “LINCOLN” is currently filming at Virginia’s historic State Capitol. The film will have an estimated economic impact of $35 million in Virginia. The economic impact of the film industry in Virginia in 2010 was $344 million with 2,700 Virginians actively working in the sector.
At the press conference, Governor McDonnell spoke about the importance of rogue sites legislation to preserving jobs. Rogue sites legislation, the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House, will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books, movies and music.
McDonnell said, “One of the things that’s very important at this stage though in film production is to be able to protect the intellectual property rights of our great film producers. Unfortunately, we have the best storytellers, the best filmmakers, the best actors, and the best technology in America but yet so much of that is pirated by other countries.”
He added, “It’s a significant loss to the American taxpayer and the American filmmaker. And so, there’s legislation in front of Congress that has gotten bipartisan support, the IP protection act. I’ve written a letter in support of that act. And we’re very hopeful that the Congress will pass that to be able to protect the intellectual genius of Americans by not having it pirated by other countries who don’t have laws as tough as ours. “
Governor McDonnell is part of a bipartisan coalition of governors from across the country who support rouge sites legislation. The following governors have given their support: Dannell Malloy (Connecticut), Jack Markell ( Delaware), Pat Quinn (Illinois), Sam Brownback (Kansas), Bev Perdue (North Carolina), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah), and Peter Shumlin (Vermont).
As he indicated in his remarks, Governor McDonnell has previously expressed his support for the PROTECT IP Act. On August 15, he wrote to Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, and Charles Grassley and Representative Bob Goodlatte in support of rogue sites legislation. He wrote, “As you are aware, copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods has reportedly cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs, as well as billions of dollars in lost revenue to federal, state and local governments. During these difficult economic times, preventing the loss of jobs and revenue is more important than ever.”
A video of the event is available here.
11/08/2011 10:57 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Spielberg’s LINCOLN has Estimated Economic Impact of $35 Million
Governor Bob McDonnell, Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd and renowned producer Kathleen Kennedy highlighted the economic benefits of film production in Virginia during a midday press conference in Richmond at In Your Ear Studios. The press conference followed a visit by the Governor and Dodd to the set of the new Steven Spielberg film “LINCOLN,” of which Kennedy is a producer. The movie is currently filming scenes at Virginia’s historic State Capitol.
“Film production means job creation,” said Governor McDonnell. “Here in Virginia we are committed to partnering with the film industry to bring more productions to the Commonwealth in order to create more good jobs for our citizens. Today Richmond and Petersburg are bustling with the production of Steven Spielberg’s “LINCOLN,” which will have an estimated economic impact of $35 million in our state. The big screen is big business, and we want that business right here in Virginia.”
MPAA Chairman Dodd reinforced that message saying, “there are more than 1,100 businesses – mostly small businesses – in Virginia working in the production sector and because of the bipartisan efforts of Gov. McDonnell to secure production incentives, we are here today to tell the story of Virginians working in this vibrant industry.”
LINCOLN is currently being shot on location at the State Capitol in Richmond and at locations in the greater Richmond-Petersburg area, including the Executive Mansion. It is based on the book, “Team of Rivals” by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Spader.
While a candidate for Governor in 2009, McDonnell promoted investment in the film industry in the Commonwealth as one of many ways to help spur private sector job creation. In the 2010 session of the General Assembly, the Governor’s first in office, McDonnell put forward legislation to make Virginia more attractive to film makers. Virginia now has $4 million in the Governors Motion Picture Opportunity Fund; a new $2.5 million refundable tax credit program (the state’s first ever) which began on January 1st of this year, and exempts productions from paying the Virginia sales tax. The economic impact of the film industry in Virginia in 2010 was $344 million with 2,700 Virginians actively working in the sector.
A video of the event is available here.
11/08/2011 09:39 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Since its introduction this past May, the PROTECT IP Act has garnered support from across the country, across industries and possibly most impressively, across the political spectrum. That bi-partisan support continues today as Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and James Risch (R-ID) have become the 39th and 40th co-sponsors to this important piece of legislation. They join the recent additions of Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-AL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) as momentum for this bill continues to build.
The PROTECT IP Act aims to eliminate the threat that foreign-based rogue websites pose to the American creative community. When these sites steal creative content, it puts the 2.2 million jobs supported by the film and television industry in jeopardy. We sincerely appreciate Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy and the 39 other co-sponsors of this legislation for recognizing the value of our industry and taking the necessary measures to protect those jobs and prevent the theft of our product.
For a comprehensive look at the problems caused by rogue websites and a complete list of the businesses, labor unions, guilds, law enforcement, and other stakeholders who support taking action, visit the MPAA’s newly launched Rogue Sites Webpage.
11/04/2011 14:59 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Over the past week, the MPAA together with the Film Bureau of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT) hosted a celebration of Chinese-American co-productions, showcasing 8 films across the city. This past Wednesday we featured the film “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and were thrilled and honored that the film’s producer Wendi Murdoch and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui could join us to pay tribute to this excellent film.
The relationship between the American and Chinese film industries has flourished over the past decade and building upon that relationship is a top priority for Senator Dodd and the MPAA.
We were also very proud to welcome Mr. Tong Gang, director of SARFT, to DC where he met with Senator Dodd and discussed the important relationship between our two countries’ film communities. Mr. Gang’s delegation, who travelled to Washington to co-host the week’s festivities, seem to thoroughly enjoy their visit and the entire MPAA staff was sad to see them leave. This fantastic week leaves all of us very optimistic about the future of Chinese-American co-productions.
We’d like to thank Mrs. Murdoch, Ambassador Yesui, Mr. Gang, and our other guests for joining us this week and look forward to hosting more successful events like this one in the future.
11/04/2011 14:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Originally published on Huffington Post’s Blog
For the movie and television industry, and the 2.2 million American workers who depend on its creative products for their jobs, the Internet has become a major component and driving force of growth.
The fact is movies, television, music and other forms of intellectual property matter to our nation’s economy, especially when it comes to American jobs and business development. And the Internet matters deeply to these industries and their workers. So it is extremely important that we have a discussion about the best policies to preserve free speech, promote innovation, and grow our economy.
To ensure our industry’s continued growth as a job generator, it is critical that those who treasure the freedom of the Internet also recognize and respect creative content and work together to prevent its theft and distribution. The bottom line: we value and respect the Internet, and we ask that those who use the Internet respect our content and our workers.
There are those who seek to distort the debate and claim the protection of intellectual property and Internet freedom cannot coexist. Nothing could be further from the truth as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just written in a letter to Representative Howard Berman, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who asked her to address this issue.
She wrote, “The State Department is strongly committed to advancing both Internet freedom and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet. Indeed, these two priorities are consistent.”
Secretary Clinton continued, “The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet is critical for the United States, for its creators and inventors, and for the jobs it promotes and the economic promise it provides. There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet.”
American workers and businesses are fortunate to have Secretary Clinton and Representative Berman take such a leadership role on this issue.
The connection between intellectual property rights and the economy may be a surprise for some. A new report by the International Intellectual Property Alliance lays out exactly how critical the U.S. copyright industries—industries whose primary purpose is to create, produce, distribute, and exhibit copyright material—are to our nation’s economy.
These industries—music, TV, film, books, radio, newspapers, and magazines—contributed nearly a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2010. That’s more than six percent of our GDP.
More than 10.6 million people are employed in copyright industries, so nearly one in ten private sector American workers depend on intellectual property for their jobs, to put food on the table and for their retirement income and other benefits.
Yet that intellectual property is being stolen every day—nearly one-quarter of all Internet traffic is copyright-infringing—and that is costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs each year.
There is much at stake for many businesses besides the copyright industries, including consumer electronics manufacturers. Consumers want content that is delivered by these manufacturers. The movie and TV industry relies on these manufacturers to distribute its content to consumers. All sides need to work together to find a way to target content theft.
We must keep the Internet free and open. And we can while promoting innovation and preserving jobs. Like Secretary Clinton, we are strongly committed to achieving both goals.
11/03/2011 07:13 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Yesterday, Variety reported that Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro, who is criticizing current rogue websites legislation, has a history of criticizing content protection law that has created the internet as we know it.
The PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House have bipartisan support and will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books and movies and music.
Recently, Shapiro has made many false claims about the legislation, including that it will “allow any copyright owner to shut down a legitimate retail website, such as Amazon…” Unfortunately, this kind of sky is falling rhetoric is not surprising.
In 2005, after the Supreme Court ruled on the Grokster vs. MGM case, Shapiro said it “makes it difficult for a new product or technology to garner the funding necessary to come to market. ‘Before developing a product in the Post-Grokster environment, an innovator or entrepreneur will have to persuade everyone--from outside bankers to inside counsel - that it can be sold without risk of a lawsuit. Venture capital migrates away from risky, litigation-prone areas.’”
As we know, numerous innovative products have been produced since 2005 and the internet has expanded the availability of movies and music. Just last month, Apple reported that 16 billion iTunes songs have been downloaded and 300 million IPods have been sold.
Shapiro also opposed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 after it was passed, calling it “a huge mistake.” The DMCA has been recognized as the “law that saved the web.”
And he’s not the only who has proclaimed that content protection law will end the internet.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has stated that the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) will “break the internet.” In 2008, EFF called the PRO-IP act “harmful.” But after the PRO-IP Act became law in October 2008, innovation has flourished, including film and TV content that is now available through all of the major mobile phone and mobile devices. Back in 2005, the group held that the Grokster ruling would “chill innovation and retard the entire sector.”
Another group, Public Knowledge, has called the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) “draconian.” They also claimed that the 2005 Grokster ruling would be “very harmful to consumers and our economy.”
Venture capitalists are also getting in on the sky is falling rhetoric, claiming that the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) will “stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.”
But the venture capital community also has a history of criticizing content protection law. For example, in 2005, the National Venture Capital Association said that the Grokster ruling “would have a devastating impact on the development of legitimate and valuable new products and services for consumers.”
So when you hear Gary Shapiro and others proclaiming that the current legislation will be the end of the internet just remember that they’ve been wrong before and they’re wrong again this time.