Secretary of State Clinton: Protecting Creative Content Can Coexist with Internet Freedom

by Senator Chris Dodd 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. 

Critics of Current Legislation Have Been Wrong in the Past about Content Protection Law

by Paul Hortenstine 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.  

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Predictions of Internet’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

by Paul Hortenstine 11/02/2011 08:29 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Currently, many opponents of rogue websites legislation are predicting that it will censor free speech or stifle innovation.  They’re even predicting that it will  “break the internet.” But this is nothing new. Since the early 1990’s opponents of content protection legislation have, time and time again, foreseen a doomsday.  

In this post on the site Copyhype, Terry Hart provides the long history of hyperbole about copyright laws.  And the critics began almost two decades ago and have not relented since then. 

Take for example the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.  Opponents of the legislation said that “free expression could be crippled.”  Now, many of those same critics agree that the DMCA is the “law that saved the web.”

Venture capital groups have also predicted dire economic consequences of content protection.  For example:

"The Supreme Court issued its decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster in 2005, holding that 'one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright' may be liable for the resulting infringing acts by its users. In its amicus brief to the Grokster court, the National Venture Capital Association warned that a rule holding Grokster liable would 'have a chilling effect on innovation.' "

However, since Grokster:

"[V]enture capital in the media and entertainment sectors grew faster than the rest of the VC market in four out of the six years. By comparison, in the five years before the Grokster decision, growth was lower in four of them. From 2000 to 2004, media and entertainment venture capital accounted for about 4.6 percent of total VC dollars invested. From 2006 through 2010, media and entertainment VC dollars grew to 7.1 percent of total VC dollars."

So, as opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate continue to predict the end of the internet, keep in mind their track record and the amazing innovation that has happened over the past 20 years thanks to content protection laws.

Growing Momentum for Rogue Sites Legislation

by Paul Hortenstine 11/01/2011 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The support for legislation that cracks down on foreign rogue websites continues to gather momentum. Just last week, the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) was introduced in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.   Meanwhile on the Senate side,  the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) is growing its list of co-sponsors.  The latest: Senators Jeff Bingaman, Sherrod Brown, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, and Robert Menendez.

So far, a broad coalition of thirty-five Senators has given their support to the PROTECT IP Act, which will protect the livelihoods of the 2.2 million American workers from all 50 states whose jobs depend on the film and television industry.

Public Safety Community Overwhelmingly Supports Rogue Sites Legislation

by Cybele Daley 10/31/2011 14:19 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members has been joined by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the largest organization representing fire fighters, in support of legislation to combat foreign based rogue websites.  IAFF and the FOP along with the Major Cities Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs, National Troopers Association, National Association of Attorneys General, National District Attorneys, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and American Society of Industrial Security are among the many organizations joining in this fight.  We applaud this overwhelming support from law enforcement – their collective voices underscore the gravity of this crime and its impact to public safety.

National President for the FOP, Chuck Canterbury, exclaimed, “The preparedness and safety of our members depend on sound, reliable equipment.  Counterfeit batteries, gloves, brake pads, and other equipment put us and the public at risk.  Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, tooth paste, and footwear put our seniors and our children at risk.  Organized gangs use these profits from counterfeit DVDs to fund other criminal enterprises and fuel violent crime in our communities here at home.”

Harold A. Schaitberger, General President stated “We know what shared responsibility is. We live it every day. Every day, our members rely on each other as they confront dangerous situations, and the country depends on our members to promote public safety. This same sense of shared responsibility is essential if we are to effectively disrupt the rogue sites’ business model. Law enforcement needs the authority to enlist the help of other players in the Internet ecosystem to cut these sites off from the American marketplace. Legislation targeting these foreign rogue websites will encourage Internet users to find legitimate sources for goods and content, will ensure that counterfeiters and pirates can no longer profit from this clearly illegal activity, and will stem the flow of dangerous counterfeit goods into the supply chains on which our members depend.

According to the President of the Major Cities Chiefs, Police Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia, Charles H. Ramsey “law enforcement in the United States has few options available to counteract the threat of foreign intellectual property theft and counterfeiting. We therefore encourage you to introduce legislation to help address this growing problem.”

Executive Director for the National Troopers Coalition, Dennis Hallion, explained “law enforcement needs the authority to enlist assistance from providers such as infrastructure providers including ISP’s and financial service providers such as payment processors, to protect US commerce.”

President of the Major County Sheriffs, Sheriff Doug Gillespie explained, “law enforcement’s ability to crack down on counterfeiters and their deception of the general public must be strengthened.  Counterfeiters and other criminals are increasingly turning to the Internet to conduct and enhance their illegal activities.”

“Legislation is needed to disrupt the counterfeiting and pirate business model by cutting those sites off from the American marketplace,” according to our Nation’s attorneys general.  “We cannot let this threat go unanswered,” said Scott Burns, Executive Director for the National District Attorneys Association.

We couldn’t agree more.  Our attorneys general, district attorneys, chiefs, sheriffs, rank and file cops on the streets, campus law enforcement administrators, and private sector security managers, are charged with protecting the public -- disrupting and dismantling crime.  They recognize that foreign based rogue websites threaten public safety.  They recognize the other crimes these thieves feed.  We urge Congress to listen to our boots on the ground in our states and cities and pass rogue sites legislation.

Why Don't They Want to Talk About Jobs?

by Paul Hortenstine 10/31/2011 14:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today, the Net Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, and Computer and Communications Industry Association sent a letter to the House of Representatives opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261).  These groups are so focused on defeating this bill that their letter avoids mentioning an important impact of this bill: preserving the livelihoods of millions of American workers.

There is broad agreement about the top issue facing our country: turning our economy around by keeping and creating good-paying jobs.  Members of both political parties will never agree on every measure that will help our economy but they do concur that there needs to be action now.  So it may come as a surprise that there is a bill that will preserve jobs and has bipartisan support.   The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate are supported by both Democrats and Republicans.  They will help protect the livelihoods of the 2.2 million American workers from all 50 states, from accountants to truck drivers to florists to make-up artists whose jobs depend on the film and television industry.

So the next time these groups bring up their opposition to the bill, they might want to discuss jobs unless they want to avoid the most pressing issue of today altogether.

Hello, My Name Is...

by Howard Gantman 10/28/2011 15:27 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

It’s been only two days since the bipartisan House Judiciary committee leadership introduced  a  highly anticipated  bill to crack down on foreign rogue websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books and movies and music.  Yet those who seem to side with the rights of these rogue websites over the rights of American workers and businesses, are taking every step possible to confuse the public, falsely characterize its provisions and mislabel the bill.

For a clear and concise explanation of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Chairman Lamar Smith has put out a fact sheet that summarizes the bill and will clarify any uncertainty about what it does.

And for those who want to get their facts right about its name:  It’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act.

So let’s stop playing games.  More than 2.2 million hard-working, middle-class people in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs.  They work behind the scenes in production, and in small businesses like equipment rental, transportation, construction and food service.  Millions more people work in theaters, video stores, retail, restaurants and other businesses that depend on entertainment.  For all of these workers and their families, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits.

We thank the bill’s initial co-sponsors, Representatives Lamar Smith, Howard Berman, Marsha Blackburn, Mary Bono Mack, Steve Chabot, John Conyers, Ted Deutch, Elton Gallegly, Tim Griffin, Bob Goodlatte, Dennis Ross, Adam Schiff, and Terry Lee for introducing this bill and recognizing the importance of protecting American workers and businesses.

Another Win for the Creative Sector - Illegal Website Newzbin2 will be Blocked by UK’s Largest ISP

by Chris Marcich 10/26/2011 16:52 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

In a landmark ruling, BT, Britain’s largest internet service provider, has been ordered by the High Court in London to block access to the illegal website Newzbin2 within 14 days.  This is the first time a website has been blocked by an ISP in the UK under copyright law and sets an important legal precedent going forward.

Newzbin2 features stolen content on their website, providing unlawful copies of film, television, games, music, and other creative material.

In March 2010, Newsbin 2’s predecessor Newzbin was found to be infringing copyright and was ordered by the High Court to filter out the illegal content. The site did not comply with the order and re-launched itself as “Newzbin2”. The new site is based outside of the UK and its owners are operating anonymously.

After Newzbin refused to filter infringing content, the MPA had no option but to ask Britain’s largest ISP to block the site. The High Court ordered BT to block the site in July and the details on the implementation of that blocking order were released today.

Today’s news has been widely welcomed across the UK’s creative industries.  Newzbin has profited to the tune of over £1 million per year from wholesale content theft and this injunction will go a long way in stopping their unlawful profit stream.

Lord Puttnam CBE, President of the Film Distributors' Association, had the following to say: “This is a very significant day for the UK’s creative industries.  The law is clear. Industrial online piracy is illegal and can be stopped.”  

Today’s ruling was also welcomed by BT.  A spokesman for the telecom giant called the ruling "helpful” because of the “clarity that it brings." The block will also apply to any variations of the Newzbin site to prevent operators of Newzbin from circumventing the law.

In the future, content creators and distributors should be able to secure greater cooperation from ISPs to address sites that are focused on wholesale copyright theft.

This precedent is essential because the growth of the legal download market is thwarted by sites such as Newzbin 2, which offers stolen content and destroy jobs for honest citizens.   


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