In Case You Missed It: Senior DOJ Official Says Prosecuting Content Theft Is a Top Priority for the Obama Administration

by Howard Gantman 05/18/2011 06:52 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

We wanted to make sure you saw this speech from the Justice Department’s top official overseeing criminal prosecutions asking manufacturers, law firms, and government agencies to keep up the fight against content theft. 

Addressing the spring conference of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition last Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer described the DOJ’s extensive efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute intellectual property crimes like counterfeit goods, stolen trade secrets, and illegal copies of movies, music, and TV shows that show up for sale on rogue websites like those targeted in the PROTECT IP Act

“[I]t is not always obvious to people why we devote as many resources as we do to fighting IP crime.  In part, I think that’s because of a misperception that IP crimes are victimless, or that the victims of IP crime don’t really suffer.  Everyone in this room, of course, knows that isn’t true,” he said.  “We know that counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other consumer products can cause serious harm to people; and companies whose trade secrets are stolen or whose goods are counterfeited may be forced to downsize or go out of business, costing individuals their jobs.  Still, stealing a trade secret feels more abstract to most people than stealing a car.  And IP crime is becoming the province of sophisticated, international organized crime groups that are drawn to it because of its perceived low risk and high reward.”

AAG Breuer also reminded his audience that law enforcement can’t stop content theft alone – we all have a role to play:

What can you, the industry leaders whose intellectual property is at risk, do to help?  

The first thing you can do is to continue educating the public about the scourge of IP crime.  The perception that IP crime is a “soft” crime has a counterproductive effect on our efforts, and we need you to help us educate people about the real consequences of these offenses.

Second, we urge you to develop strong internal mechanisms for detecting IP crime with respect to your products and services.  We cannot police the entire global economy, and so we absolutely count on you to detect IP crime as it happens.   Our partnership with all of you must be strong if we are to make real progress.

Finally, let us know what you find.  Just as you would report a burglary in your home, we need you to report the theft of your intellectual property.  When we learn, in real-time, of IP crime, we can act more effectively and aggressively than if we learn about it long after the fact.


Explore our Content Protection page for more on how content theft hurts all of us.


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