Call of Duty: Defend our Intellectual Property against Internet Piracy

Nov 17, 2009

This week, millions of gamers turned out for the biggest-selling launch in the history of entertainment software, the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Some will be missing out on the action because their consoles have been rightly banned from Microsoft Xbox Live service; apparently, many gamers have chosen to modify their hardware to play illegal pirated versions of the game. Microsoft’s actions demonstrate its commitment to combating the growing problem of piracy, and the media attention this action has received should serve as a "Call to Action" for the Administration, Congress, and the business community as they continue defending intellectual property against the worsening crime of internet piracy.

This recent event is just another example of the damage piracy can have on our economy and jobs. Simply put, piracy, whether on line or in another form, is a job killer.

Last April, the much anticipated blockbuster hit X-Men Origins: Wolverine was illegally posted online an entire month before its scheduled theater release. In the months following the theatrical release of Star Trek, the media company tracked more than five million IP addresses that downloaded one of six recorded copies of the movie. According to Forbes.com, this year’s most pirated movie, Watchmen, was downloaded nearly 17 million times.

Analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates that every year global music piracy leads to a loss of over 71,000 jobs, $12.5 billion in economic growth, and $2.7 billion in workers' earnings. The global film industry lost $18.2 billion in 2005 alone as a result of piracy. Additionally, the U.S. entertainment software industry estimated losses over $3 billion in 2007 due to piracy.

In these difficult economic times, we simply cannot afford to leave these crimes unchecked. To more aggressively address these threats to American jobs, the Administration and Congress should proceed on a steady path of enforcement that includes the full funding and implementation of the PRO-IP Act (H.R. 4279). When funded, this legislation will protect and create jobs in IP-intensive industries.

A strong and comprehensive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is also needed, and will advance the protection of IP rights around the world that are so critical to job creation, economic growth, and human progress.

The U.S. Senate will soon look to confirm Victoria Espinel as the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC). This confirmation will be key in enhancing IP awareness and protection measures. However, for her to be successful, it is imperative that she has the authority as well as resources to address the full range of IP issues now facing American industry, workers, and consumers.
Finally, Congress should move forward and pass the Customs and Border Protection Reauthorization bill to better address trafficking in illicit goods.

Microsoft shouldn’t be the sole crusader in the fight against internet piracy. Our country needs to have a strong enforcement system to protect our intellectual property, the very engine that creates jobs and drives our economic growth.

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