06.10.09

Remarks At The World Copyright Summit “New Frontiers For Creators In The Marketplace”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) delivered the following remarks at the World Copyright Summit on Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C.

As Prepared

Thank you.  I always appreciate the opportunity to be in such talented company. 

I would like to thank the President of CISAC, Robin Gibb, and the Chairman of the Board, Brett Cottle, for inviting me here today. 

I am an avid fan.  I see intellectual property rights as an important way to ensure that inventors and creators have the incentives to produce their work.  In my role as a United States Senator, I am also interested in the value of that work in our economy, and the importance of bringing those creations to the public.

This Conference brings together those who create the movies, music, art, and literature we enjoy, with those who are able to connect creators and consumers.  The design of this Conference represents an important recognition that a symbiotic relationship exists among all participants in the copyright system. 

This relationship is also reflected in copyright policy.  The art of creating copyright law is in understanding the need to provide strong and sufficient protections for creators, while making sure that their creations can be used, enjoyed, and appreciated. 

Too often, different factions within the copyright community view themselves only as having competing interests.  They fail to work together to see what can be achieved through cooperation.  I encourage you to use the dialogue you are creating here this week to bridge policy differences.  We should work together on copyright legislation that ensures a fair and functioning system in the Information Age.

Intellectual property is a major driver of the United States economy.  I was able to be on a movie set recently and it gave me a firsthand view of the talent and effort that goes into creating such an incredible work.  It also demonstrated how many jobs are related to the industry.  That last Batman movie included over 65 days of filming in Chicago, and $36 million was poured into the local economy as a result.  Seventeen million dollars went to nearly 800 local vendors – that is real money that creates real jobs.  Congress must do its part to protect intellectual property, and to foster its growth.  That is why legislation to reform our patent system, protect the rights of creators, and enforce our copyright laws must be enacted and supported.

Preventing the theft of intellectual property – your work – therefore remains a high priority of mine.  A few weeks ago, President Obama announced a new cybersecurity initiative.  In doing so, the President noted some estimates that online intellectual property theft reached $1 trillion worldwide last year.  That is unacceptable. 

As we work to reinvigorate the American and global economies, we simply cannot afford to tolerate theft on this level.  You are all creators and legitimate users of intellectual property.  The theft of intellectual property hurts all of us, it costs jobs, and it impedes economic growth.

More than ever, we need a comprehensive and coordinated IP strategy.  

Last year, Congress enacted an intellectual property rights enforcement bill that I was pleased to sponsor.  We intend that law to provide the resources and coordination our law enforcement agencies need to combat intellectual property theft here in the Unites States. 

But your businesses and your audiences are increasingly global, and so our governments must also work together on an international approach to protecting intellectual property rights that fosters creativity and facilitates the legitimate distribution of your work to consumers. 

I am working on bipartisan legislation this year, on which all aspects of the recording industry agree, that will harmonize U.S. copyright law in important respects with the rest of the developed world.  It will ensure performing artists are compensated when their work is broadcast over the radio. 

Copyright issues are global in large part because we are moving at full speed into the digital world.  Consumers are increasingly accessing news and entertainment content online.  From watching user generated videos, to episodes of the evening news, there is no question that consumers are taking advantage of the fast-growing digital environment.

Consumers watch videos over the web on their television sets, on their computers and on personal digital devices.  The online world is adaptable, and it does not recognize international boundaries.  

This week, television stations in the United States will cease analog broadcasting and complete the digital transition.  Radio stations are also providing high definition digital services today. 

The digital world brings with it the perils of piracy for content owners, but it also opens new business models and new opportunities for creators to reach consumers. 

I have been working on intellectual property policy for many years now.  It was 15 years ago that I last addressed the CISAC World Congress about copyright issues.  

A little more than a decade ago, we enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to address emerging issues related to copyright and the Internet.  The DMCA was intended to provide a framework for protecting content, while allowing Internet access and online service providers to flourish. 

The legislative process is deliberate, and so the DMCA had to be sufficiently flexible to address issues that would arise in a rapidly innovating world.   

Business models, technology, and Internet usage change faster than Congress can act.  Consider that in the time since the DMCA was enacted, the number of homes in the U.S. with Internet access has roughly tripled.  When Congress passed the DMCA, Google had yet to be incorporated.

The relationship between Internet service providers and content owners continues to evolve.  New issues that were barely contemplated when we wrote the DMCA a decade ago will surely emerge.

Your innovation has changed, and will continue to change the digital environment. As the digital world evolves, and the issues you confront as both creators and distributors of content change, I look forward to continuing to hear from you on how the current law is working and how it can be improved.

I again commend you for bringing together interests on all sides of copyright issues.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. 

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