American thinkers, creators and innovators have historically encompassed the most successful sector of our nation’s economy. In fact, in the U.S. alone intellectual property is valued at $5.5 trillion and accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, driving 40 percent of this country’s economic growth. However, creators are all too-often victims of widespread piracy, discouraging further advancements in industries stretching from pharmaceuticals to software.
The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which works to secure the enactment and enforcement of strong copyright laws, is taking a step to further protect U.S. intellectual property rights by releasing its 2009 “Watch List”. This list is similar to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Annual “Special 301” Report and gives the names of countries that maintain inferior intellectual property protection regimes.
China, Russia, Spain and Thailand are names likely to be seen on the Caucus’ list and were all dubbed serious perpetrators of copyright violations by USTR. Not only do countries like these daunt U.S. creators but they cost the economy big bucks. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, counterfeit and pirated goods cost the U.S. $200-250 billion each year in lost sales.
The U.S. is not the only country that stands to lose from unprotected intellectual property rights. As highlighted in the 2009 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), people in countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to nine times greater than those without legal protection. Countries that protect property rights provide an essential foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, the Index shows: its calculations cover 115 countries, representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP.
The Caucus is co-chaired by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Congressman Adam B. Schiff, and Congressman Bob Goodlatte.