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Copyright Drives Innovation
Author:  Michael O'Leary
Date:  11/14/2013

Today, copyright is driving innovation throughout the growing digital economy, and promoting a robust, competitive environment that constantly generates new sources of entertainment for audiences to enjoy.  This in turn supports investments in the many related applications, devices and other technologies that viewers use to access this content with increasing ease and flexibility. To help spur this creativity and innovation, I believe that the primary goal of policymakers who are reviewing copyright should be to preserve and expand the incentives in the law that have produced this unprecedented success for consumers.

I made this argument in comments filed on behalf of the MPAA as part of a proceeding by the Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration regarding their Green Paper, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.”  A copy of these comments can be found here.

There are now over 90 legitimate web-based services in the U.S. to watch movies and TV shows, and that number is growing every single day --services like Netflix, UltraViolet, HBO GO, Hulu, Crackle, WatchESPN, Amazon Prime to name a few.  The entire list can be found at www.wheretowatch.org. These services let audiences connect to the content they love easier than ever before, and creators in both the content and technology sectors are devoting substantial time and resources to creating new, easier ways to access this content.

But in order to maintain this tremendous growth in innovation and technology, everyone in the digital ecosystem must do their part to protect the rights of creators and innovators.  The growth in access to digital content and to the Internet has been world-changing for consumers.  And I believe that all  stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem—whether search engines, advertising networks, payment processors, or cloud storage providers – share a responsibility to curb abusive practices online, including copyright infringement, and help create an Internet that works for everyone.

That means finding ways of working together in good faith on voluntary solutions where everyone shares in the responsibility of creating a healthy digital marketplace for the exchange of ideas, goods, and services; one that promotes creativity, investment, innovation and job creation.  

The motion picture and television industry is made up of media and technology companies.  They invest billions of dollars every year in creative talent, skilled workers, and supportive technologies. They produce movies and television programs that inspire, thrill, and educate audiences around the world while supporting 1.9 million jobs all across the country. They are responsible for 108,000 businesses across all 50 states, 85 percent of which employ fewer than 10 people. In 2011, the industry supported $104 billion in wages; $16.7 billion in sales tax, state income tax, and federal taxes; and a $12.2 billion trade surplus.

None of this would be possible without a robust, effective copyright system. And we must ensure that it remains the economic and innovation driver that it was intended to be.