The New U.S. Congress Must Protect and Promote Intellectual Property Rights

The 114th Congress presents an exciting opportunity for America. American entrepreneurship, ingenuity and creativity lead the world, and Intellectual Property Rights is key to maintaining global competitiveness. Americans for Tax Reform, Digital Liberty and Property Rights Alliance, in coordination with 64 advocacy groups, scholars, issue experts, business groups, has released an open coalition letter urging members of congress consider several points when considering intellectual property policy. 
Intellectual Property rights have been recognized since the creation of the constitution and are enumerated in Article 1, section 8: 

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

The importance of guaranteeing intellectual property protections in the constitution was further noted by James Madison in Federal Paper #43:

“With regard to intellectual property, as with all property rights, the public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals.”  

IP rights must receive this level of protection because they promote free speech and freedom of expression. Creators naturally and vigorously defend their ability to create works of their choosing and keep them separate from censorship. Not only is IP an issue of free speech and is therefore rightly guaranteed in the constitution, it is also extremely important in creating jobs and fueling economic growth as it turns intangible assets into exclusive property. According to the a recent government report, IP- intensive industries accounted for 27.1 million US jobs in 2010 and indirectly accounted for another 12.9 million jobs. America’s ability to remain a world leader in innovative creations depends on strong protection of IP. At the same time, the U.S. must use the lure of economic ties to convince trading partners to adopt strong protection of IP rights. Doing so will prove beneficial to all stakeholders.

One major area of concern for legislators and citizens everywhere is IP theft online. The Internet is an incredible platform for innovation, creativity and commerce, however the Internet has also created new avenues for piracy and counterfeit goods to thrive. More must be done to protect IP rights on the Internet and to hold bad actors accountable and protect legitimate actors.

As the new Congress evaluates new and existing laws relating to intellectual property rights, they must consider the importance of providing protection to artists, authors, entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors.  

The full letter can be found here.