America’s Prominence in the World Has Much To Do With Our IP Laws, Group Says
American prosperity, stability and cutting edge innovation has much to thank our intellectual property (IP) laws for. According to a panel assembled by the American Consumer Institute (ACI), IP has provided far greater benefits than you might expect. And the American public seems to intuitively grasp how important laws protecting IP are to American jobs and the economy.
ACI’s Center for Citizen Research released a report today, examining facts and consumer attitudes toward IP theft. To discuss the new report and put it into context, ACI assembled a panel of IP experts to share their perspective.
Timothy H. Lee, the SVP of Legal and Public Affairs for the Center for Individual Freedom, noted that despite arguments that our current IP laws are draconian, and stifle innovation, the evidence just doesn’t follow. Is there a 30-year period in history with greater innovation or wealth than we’ve had here in the U.S. in the past 30 years? Lee asked.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln’s famous assertion that patent law was the “fuel of interest to the fire of genius,” he noted that there are a variety of IP systems throughout the world and history. However participants generally agreed that it was “no accident” that no other country has quite matched U.S. success. Fortunately the public seems to agree. One prominent finding of the study was that 90% of the public believe that the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods is bad for the U.S. economy and negatively effecting American jobs.
Speakers emphasized that IP law is not simply about utilitarian motives for society. IP laws are a matter of “natural rights,” asserted Lee. Representative Marsha Blackburn, who opened the discussion, reminded all present that American innovators have a constitutional right to profit, benefit from, and own the things that they create.
Sandra Aistars, Copyright Alliance Executive Director, reported that 5.1 million jobs can be directly attributed to copyright and that for every two jobs in the copyright industries it supports another job elsewhere in our economy. Copyright industries contribute approximately 11% of U.S. GDP, with over 6% of that coming from the core copyright industries alone.
Aistars cited a recent WIPO study which surveyed 30 economies. The study found that countries with a strong copyright contribution to GDP demonstrated greater fiscal freedom, freedom from corruption, strong rule of law and global competitiveness.
The public recognized the importance of IP in a global context, according to the study. A full 86% want the U.S. to work with the Chinese government to achieve stronger IP protections. While 81% of people support efforts to include IP provisions in international trade agreements generally.
None of these findings were really surprising, Aistars commented, since the idea that copyright protection is important to the economy is just common sense.
Citing the iPhone as an example, Timothy Lee credited IP laws and the innovation they spur as equalizing society, and specifically society’s access to new technologies.
Copyrights and copyright industries, notably, have done much to advance innovation. Aistars used James Cameron as a prime example. Before his hit movie, Avatar, could be brought to life new technologies had to be developed. Cameron spent months working directly with technology companies to create the cameras, 3D and image capture technologies necessary to fulfill his creative vision. Reminding the audience that creators see themselves as partners, not warring factions, with tech innovators, Aistars noted that the combination of Cameron’s storytelling and technological vision benefited all of society. Because of his artistic vision and unwillingness to compromise all of society now has access to new innovations that might not otherwise yet exist.
Going forward, the panelist noted that small businesses and the public were the real challenge. Waking small businesses to the importance of IP and the necessary steps to protect it will feature prominently in America’s continued prosperity. In the copyright context the importance of educating the public to all of the ways copyright benefits local communities is a major step heading into the future. Aistars reminded the audience that copyright issues are not only of importance to the east and west coasts and big media companies. As many recent studies are showing, all of America is benefitting directly and indirectly from robust copyright and creative communities.