President Obama is Right – Fighting Crime is Vital to Spurring Economic Recovery

May 26, 2009

by Mark Esper

Recently, the President honored America’s law enforcement community for the job they do in protecting the country and fighting crime. In his tribute, the president emphasized that fighting crime was vital to spurring economic recovery. I couldn’t agree more.

It is important to note that intellectual property (IP) theft and its impact on our economy transcend traditional crimes as we know them. U.S. Intellectual property—music, videos, books, inventions, trademarks, and so on—is worth over $5 trillion, which is more than the nominal gross domestic product of any other country and accounts for more than one-half of all US exports. Yet IP theft is rampant, costing the U.S. economy $250 billion per year and resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Not only does this type of crime cripple our economy, but it affects consumer confidence and safety. 

IP theft also undermines innovation and creativity.  Artists, entrepreneurs, researchers, and other innovators (and those who invest in these sectors) need to know that their efforts will be rewarded and their work protected.  Without this assurance, creativity and innovation will not only suffer, but our economy—which relies more and more on strong IP rights—will suffer as well. 

It is encouraging to hear the President connect the dots between law enforcement and our economy.  Over 18 million America jobs depend on protecting IP.  And studies have concluded that for every $1 invested in enforcement to address IP crimes such as counterfeiting and piracy, federal tax revenues increase three-fold, and U.S. output increases from between $64 and $75 on average. 

One immediate way the president can help “take a bite out of [IP] crime” is to nominate the nation’s first White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) as soon as possible. Once in place, this individual can help strategize and coordinate the Administration’s enforcement efforts, both at home and abroad.  And full funding by Congress of last year’s PRO-IP Act—which created the IPEC—will give this person the tools, funding, and authority he/she needs to be successful for innovators, creators, taxpayers, and consumers alike.

Innovation is key to a vibrant economy, jobs, and safety; in these trying economic times, we must protect jobs while working to create new ones. Creative ideas will lead the way, and they must be protected. I encourage the White House to demonstrate its commitment to fighting all crime by addressing IP theft and appointing the IPEC to follow through on this goal.

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