This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Remarks to Entertainment Industry Officials on Protecting Intellectual Property, Los Angeles, California


Wednesday. January 13, 2010



Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks to Entertainment Industry Officials on Protecting Intellectual Property
Los Angeles, California

Thank you, Dan. I am delighted to be here with you today in Los Angeles—the home of an American movie industry that is an iconic engine of creativity and innovation.

I’m happy to see we have stakeholders from throughout the industry here, including leadership from some of the guilds…

…Because it will take a unified effort to combat the theft and piracy threatening millions of American workers who depend on a thriving motion picture industry for their livelihood.

Aside from being a critical economic force for America, the movie business shapes how we think about ourselves—and is the lens through which much of the world sees and understands America.

For these reasons, it is a fundamental priority of the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce to protect the value of the copyrighted works you produce against the scourge of piracy.

Vice President Biden was right on target when he recently said, “Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft and it should be dealt with.”

In the short time available to me, I would like to say a few things about how the Obama administration is responding to these challenges, focusing on:

  • establishing global intellectual property norms,
  • promoting compliance with global norms; and
  • strengthening the international copyright system.

I would then like to turn to David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Dave is the Obama Administration’s chief advisor on intellectual property issues, and he’ll be talking about his office’s strong enforcement and training activities, as well as its pioneering IPR attaché program which reaches around the globe.

It bears repeating that we are acutely aware of the impact of the growing, global threat of piracy to the film industry.

The Department of Commerce has a long history of active international engagement on this issue. In 1996, we led international efforts to adopt the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT) and Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Since then, we’ve worked to expand the reach of these norms, and in December 2009, we achieved a significant new milestone, when all of the European Union member states agreed in full to these treaties.

Commerce has also been an active participant with the U.S. Trade Representative and other agencies in the negotiation with key trading partners of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which takes aim at preventing counterfeiting and piracy on a global scale.

Of course, finding the precise language to satisfy the diverse views of domestic constituencies, much less the sometimes differing perspectives of the 37 countries involved in this exercise, is no easy task, but you can be assured that the Obama administration is committed to getting this right.

On a bilateral basis, Commerce has encouraged countries to pass anti-camcording laws to address the problem of theatrical on-screen piracy and illegal Internet piracy.

Working with the Department of Justice, we also have encouraged the development of strong deterrent penalties for large-scale counterfeiting operations and piracy in regions around the world.

More broadly, IP protection has been and will continue to be a focus of my tenure at Commerce.

I have already been to China multiple times to express the Obama administration’s commitment on this issue. My message there, and throughout the rest of the world, is a simple one:

America will not allow its knowledge and its intellectual property to be stolen with impunity.

My department also recognizes that piracy isn't the only issue challenging the American movie industry in the international marketplace.

An important part of our job at Commerce is to promote a level playing field for America’s creative industries. We collaborate with the trade representative’s office and other agencies to identify and eliminate trade practices that other countries use to afford their firms unfair advantage in the global marketplace.

Ensuring that foreign countries stick to their intellectual property treaty and trade obligations is a responsibility that Commerce takes very seriously.

And we’ve had some important victories recently.

For example, a recent ruling of the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body condemned a number of Chinese restrictions on the domestic sale and distribution of American audiovisual works.

But even as Commerce applauds this decision, we know there's a lot more to be done, and we will continue our efforts to ensure you get full market access around the world.

Finally, I would like to conclude with a few words about the proposed World Intellectual Property Organization’s Audiovisual Performances Treaty—which is an area of concern our intellectual property experts have been discussing with major U.S. motion picture studios and performers’ unions.

The United States has been a longtime supporter of a treaty like this.

We believe that artists who appear in audiovisual works are entitled to the same protection that other creators enjoy. At the same time, we will not allow a treaty that disrupts or threatens the incredibly successful business model that the studios, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have developed over decades.

And I'm hopeful that we will see some concrete progress on the treaty discussions in the coming year.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn't touch on a pair of other important issues that I know are of interest to you.

The Commerce Department is actively engaged in administration-wide discussions relating to broadband policy and its implications for the motion picture industry.

As you know, the FCC will be releasing its broadband plan, as mandated by Congress, in March of this year. As we understand it, the FCC’s plan will be sweeping in its scope. And important to those of you in the room, in all likelihood it will recognize the critical role that legitimate, legal content plays in stimulating demand for broadband services.

This should all be very positive in terms of establishing a national direction on the suite of broadband issues for the first time.

At the Commerce Department, we also understand, however, that for the motion picture industry the rubber might not hit the road until the FCC completes its proceeding on net neutrality.

On this point, I hope you can appreciate that it would be premature for me to articulate an administration position. The administration plans to file comments at an appropriate time.

The Department of Commerce will be playing a lead role in developing consensus on the administration’s position. And in developing that position, you should know that we will have our sights set on both the importance of preserving an open Internet, as well as the need to combat piracy. So while it is too early to publicly flesh out our views, your industry’s interests are definitely on our minds.

In wrapping up, let me emphasize that these are but a few of our efforts, and I can assure you that the Department of Commerce is continually looking for new ways to ensure that the creativity that is the lifeblood of our economy is protected.

Now I’d like to turn the podium over to Under Secretary Dave Kappos.

Thank you.