The Washington Post’s Rob Malda’s recent blog post appears to argue that the success of a particular film at the box office somehow means that concerns about widespread piracy are misplaced. This is a bit like condoning shoplifting if it’s done at a successful store. Of course, we shouldn’t. And it overlooks the economic damage – and the damage to consumers -- of turning a blind eye to such forms of theft.
According to a recent Department of Commerce report, IP-intensive industries such as film and television support 40 million jobs and add $5 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product annually – nearly 35 percent of America’s economic output. 2.2 million American jobs depend on the film industry and television industry alone.
We think that the hard work of those people should be protected. But the reality is that rampant online theft undermines the ability of IP-intensive industries like ours to invest in new ideas and new products if it’s simply accepted fact that they will be stolen – often before they even have a chance to hit the marketplace. Copyright protections are critical to keeping the creative industries vibrant so they can continue to employ millions of Americans and produce the films and other creative content that have become such a vital part of our cultural fabric.
Finally, in any discussion of online theft, it is important to recognize the threat that sites that traffic in stolen products often pose to the individual consumers who use them. They put American consumers at risk for identity theft, fraud and damaging privacy violations. They jeopardize the security of the computers that access them. They jeopardize the security of users’ personal financial information. Curbing online piracy means protecting American industry, but it also means protecting American consumers.