News
Victory! Limewire No Longer Allowed to Profit from Theft
Thursday, May 13, 2010 1:11 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This week, the District Court of Manhattan has handed a deserved victory to recording artists when Judge Kimba M. Wood found Limewire can be held liable for copyright infringement. This decision continues the strong precedent in favor of protecting intellectual property rights set by the Supreme Court nearly five years ago in the MGM Studios v. Grokster decision, which ruled that software developers can be held liable when their products foster the infringement of copyrighted movies and music. In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled against companies such as Grokster which base their business on the theft of intellectual property rights.

These cases, which seek to stop the illegal downloading of copyrighted material by holding accountable the peer-to-peer (P2P) companies which provide it, are instrumental in laying the foundation for intellectual property rights protection. Yesterday’s ruling is a victory not just for the entertainment industry, but ultimately for legitimate free markets and the American consumer.

This ruling will assist in greatly discouraging the illegal activities that have been taking place for too long and sends a strong signal that intellectual property rights violations will not be tolerated.
 

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Three Cheers for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland!
Friday, April 30, 2010 2:08 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) praises the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for continuing their efforts to protect intellectual property around the world by releasing its annual Special 301 report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

Strong intellectual property enforcement is key to long-term economic growth and prosperity. Intellectual property rights can boost trade and foreign investment dramatically, but first, global piracy and counterfeiting must be stopped or significantly reduced for the economies of developed and developing nations to thrive. 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.

As Ambassador Kirk put it in USTR’s press release:

“Intellectual property theft in overseas markets is an export killer for American businesses and a job killer for American workers here at home. USTR’s Special 301 report is important because it serves as the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms that bolsters our exports and supports American jobs in IPR-intensive industries.”

The press release praised the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary for cracking down on rampant counterfeiting and piracy and as a result those countries were removed from the Watch List. The report also continues to outline concerns regarding China for its “implementation of ‘indigenous innovation’ policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. IPR holders.”

Counterfeiting and piracy is a global problem that negatively impacts all sectors of the global economy from pharmaceuticals to software. As highlighted in the 2010 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 eight 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 125 countries, representing 97 per cent of the world’s GDP.

With the release of this report, the United States continues to send a clear message to our trading partners that we are serious about protecting our creators and innovators and at the same time promoting prosperity around the world.

It is our hope that U.S. will continue along this course with the completion and implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This pact will expand upon cooperation that has developed regionally and bilaterally within the past few years and set a new framework for international norms for stronger IP enforcement.

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Counterfeit Parts Could Impair Military Equipment and Weapons
Friday, April 30, 2010 10:18 am | By Caitlin Blaney

Members of the US Armed Forces often joke with one another, “Always remember that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder”. Yesterday, however, the joke became less funny when the Government Accountability Office discovered that counterfeit parts have been used to manufacture equipment for the Department of Defense. Worse still, the DOD is unsure exactly where the problem originated or how much equipment might be affected. The lives of hundreds of US soldiers may be in jeopardy because DOD oversight was decidedly lax.

This discovery is an unfortunate reminder of the importance of observing strong property rights. Inventions which hold patents and other protective legal rights have been marked as quality products to be manufactured only with permission. Products manufactured without permission in an attempt to market a cheap product begets just that – a cheap product. Many people do not consider the ramifications of counterfeit products when purchasing a fake brand-name purse from a street vendor; the consequences become much more real, though, when they affect the lives of our fighting men and women.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, says he plans to hold hearings to investigate the problem and possibly impose stricter rules for DOD equipment contractors.
 

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