Friday, January 14, 2011 9:32 am | By Katerina Bricker
The Heritage Foundation released their 2011 Index of Economic Freedom. They briefly define economic freedom as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property and in an economically free society they are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they would like, which is protected. This has been tracked for over a decade by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation.
- Business Freedom
- Trade Freedom
- Fiscal Freedom
- Government Spending
- Monetary Freedom
- Investment Freedom
- Financial Freedom
- Property Rights
- Freedom from Corruption
- Labor Freedom
Report Finds Counterfeiting and Piracy Websites Attract Billions
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 2:52 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek
To underscore the threat of online theft, anti-fraud firm Markmonitor released a study examining a range of sites that offered pirated content and counterfeit goods. The study looked at a sampling of 22 brands, both digital content and physical goods, and found that websites that offered pirated or counterfeit versions of those brands generated a staggering 53 billion visits per year with the majority of visits going to sites that offer digital content. While the 53 billion visit number does not equate to the number of downloads or purchases, this study provides a valuable snapshot into the rampant use of these sites to gain access to illegal goods.
The issue of online counterfeiting and piracy gained much needed attention last year as members of the IP industries and those in Congress and the Administration looked to come up with ways to deal with the very real threat online infringement poses to the economy. Activity in this area included the appointment of Victoria Espinel as the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, negotiation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and Senator Leahy’s introduction of S. 3804, the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act.”
The theft of intellectual property is pervasive and not only harms the economy but society as a whole. When an individual or company is no longer able to count on protection to monetize their work the very incentive to create is undermined. Beyond the steps taken by government to combat online infringement highlighted above, I believe it is more important to highlight what private industry is doing to come up with solutions outside of government intervention. Last month it was announced that an industry-led effort was underway to target rogue sites that specialize in peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals and stop them from doing business. Companies included in the coalition are Microsoft, Google, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Yahoo, GoDaddy, Neustar, PayPal, and eNom.
Additionally, Google signaled a shift in how its search service deals with counterfeits and piracy. Google will be implementing four changes to its service that include: acting on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours; preventing terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in autocomplete; improving its AdSense anti-piracy review; and tweaking search queries to make authorized content more readily available.
These are reasonable steps that could make serious progress in the front to combat intellectual property theft.
Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Will Not Reach Goals
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 4:52 pm | By Katerina Bricker
Cigarette branding may be coming to an end in Scotland and the UK, as government officials seek to enact plain packaging regulations. Right now Australia is set to become the first country to introduce plain packages in 2012 and the European Union is considering a ban. These drastic measures are taking place due to the fact that they believe it will help decrease cigarette usage in their countries, as well as the go-to feel good fallacy that “it’s for the children.”
- No reduction in smoking rates: There is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that the implementation of plain packaging will lead to any decrease in the total quantity of alcohol products sold. Brand substitution is the only effect.
- Cheaper cigarette prices: Since companies will not have the ability to compete on the basis of logo/trademark differentiation, consumers will only have the ability differentiate products based on pricing.
- Increased counterfeiting: By preventing the brands to display their trademarks on their tobacco products it allows a greater threat for their products to be faked and therefore could have detrimental effects to consumers.
- Threaten jobs: At a time of economic downturn this could cost jobs to many hard working families such as, graphic designers and paper producers.