TV, Movie and Labor Groups Ask White House to Ramp Up IP Protection Efforts

Joint filing says online piracy presents "greatest and most urgent challenge"

TV, movie and labor groups have teamed to ask the White House to ramp up IP protection efforts.

That came in comments Wednesday to the White House's Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement and top enforcer Victoria Espinel, who had asked for input on the first Joint Stategic Plan for IP enforcement.  She got it.

In a joint filing, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE),  National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said they want more resources put to preventing online theft. They say online piracy theft "presents the greatest and most urgent challenge."

Among the action items they want in the strategic plan are: 1) Encourage Internet intermediaries like social networks, ad nets, search engines and hosting services to work with content owners to reduce infringement; 2) convene an annual White House summit on intellectual property; 3) create a national policy on protecting online content, including a review of any laws that might impede that; 4) an IP Task Force in key government agency (the Department of Justice already has one that the groups pointed to as a model).

The petitioners cited plenty of data on the impact of online piracy to their business and the U.S. Econonomy.  For instance, MPAA member studios were said to have lost $6.1 billion to pirates in 2005, according to one study, which the petition said translated into an economy-wide loss of $20.5 billion in economic output, which in turn translated into a loss of another $5.5 billion in earnings for "the millions of hard working men and women whose livelihoods depend on the U.S. creative industries."

And the petitioners made the point that it was not just the industries at risk, but the more intangible, "creative," in that equation that was under siege. "While these studies and data paint a comprehensive portrait of the economic costs of copyright theft to our society," they said, "[those stats] should not obscure something else that is far harder to quantify but equally as powerful and important to the future of our country: The threat copyright theft poses to creativity, innovation and culture in our society... The motion pictures, television programs and sound recordings that our industry creates are a representation of our freedoms, our culture, and our diversity to the world. They are woven into the fabric of our culture and are part of our national heritage."