In a communiqué released today, world leaders recognized the crucial role intellectual property (IP) plays in advancing the global digital economy and the need for international cooperation to protect it.
This commitment is an important step forward not only for the legitimate online marketplace, but also for transnational trade and the millions of Americans whose creativity is constantly driving innovation in this country.
The G8 statement calls for the implementation of an international framework to effectively address IP theft and enforce the rights of owners online:
With regard to the protection of intellectual property, in particular copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and patents, we recognize the need to have national laws and frameworks for improved enforcement. We are thus renewing our commitment to ensuring effective action against violations of intellectual property rights in the digital arena, including action that addresses present and future infringements. We recognize that the effective implementation of intellectual property rules requires suitable international cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including with the private sector.
Calling the Internet “essential to our societies, economies and their growth,” the G8 leaders affirmed that “respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of intellectual property rights, which inspire life in every democratic society for the benefit of all citizens…must receive the same protection, with the same guarantees, on the Internet as everywhere else.”
The Internet has presented tremendous opportunities for exchanging information and ideas quickly – aid workers are utilizing online social media networks to facilitate rescue missions; researchers are developing digital databases to rapidly share discoveries; businesses are connecting with a global base of potential customers, offering consumers choices like never before. No one could have predicted the societal good that has come from the worldwide interconnectivity afforded by the Internet.
Unfortunately, the laws and regulations put in place to protect consumers and innovation in the physical marketplace have not kept pace with the growth of illegal conduct online. The anonymous theft and ubiquitous, illegal distribution of American-made content places at risk the livelihoods of the 2.4 million U.S. workers in the film and television industry who invest time and energy to create entertainment enjoyed by millions. To the largely middle class workforce that makes up our creative community, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs, and reduced health and retirement benefits.
Enforcing the rule of law on the Internet ensures a safe environment for all users and fosters economic growth. All countries have a stake in this fight; the harm perpetuated by content theft and other cyber crimes transcends national borders.
We commend the G8 leaders for recognizing that the global nature of the Internet requires an international framework for effectively addressing online content theft, and we look forward to working with them to implement strong, enforceable standards to protect our creative community here and abroad.