We've Got Hollywood Covered

Chamber of Commerce, 750 Organizations to Press Congress for Anti-Piracy Bill

Seek to revive PROTECT IP act, introduced in May but sidelined by Oregon senator

International websites marketing products that infringe upon U.S. copyrights threaten jobs and future innovation across all industries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and representatives from a coalition of more than 750 business — including the music and film industries — said Wednesday morning.

The chamber and the industry representatives are joining forces to persuade Congress to pass the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act.

Included in the coalition: NBC Universal, Sony Music and Pictures, Walt Disney Company, the MPAA, the RIAA, News Corp., the National Association of Theater Owners, Warner Music and the American Federation of Musicians.

The announcement of the coalition was made at a press conference on the Hill prior to meetings with lawmakers, pressing them to pass legislation that targets foreign rogue websites.

Nicknamed PROTECT IP, the anti-piracy bill was introduced in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), along with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors.

The bill would serve orders to search engines, advertisers and payment service providers, such as Visa and Mastercard, against doing business with websites the Department of Justice determines are set up for the sole purpose of copyright infringement.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) placed a hold on the bill shortly after its release, which indicates that he may filibuster the measure if it is brought up for a floor debate. Wyden said that the legislation overreaches in its effort to police the internet.

Industry says that it needs the legislation to protect copyrighted works from theft. "In 2008 more than 90 percent of the music downloads were illegal," said Hal Ponder of the American Federation of Musicians at the briefing.

"The framework for the legislation is that the broadband Internet still is in its infancy," Richard Cotton, executive vice president and general counsel for NBC Universal, added. "We are facing a current standard where there is a tidal wave of internet theft. The issue is how to bring a rule of law to the internet."

"Labor is here because of the impact that the Internet has on jobs," Cotton said. "These are high growth, high paying industries that provide us with a leg up against international competition."

"Many business don't want to support rogue websites and say they want a court order," David Green, NBCU’s vice president of public policy and government relations, told TheWrap after the Q&A session.

"IP-intensive industries are responsible for the jobs of 19 million Americans, $7.7 trillion of our gross output, and 60 percent of U.S. exports," Steve Tepp, senior director of internet counterfeiting and piracy for the chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center, said in a July 12 blog on the group's website.

Along those lines, Timothy Tardibono, policy director and chief counsel for San Diego-based Connect, an incubator that helps tech start-ups grow, said at the briefing that piracy infringes upon a start-up's ability to get to the market first.

The cost of defending intellectual property abroad increases its overhead, which has a direct impact on job creation, he said.