Obama administration pledges new coordinated US effort to punish counterfeiters of movies, CDs

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gov’t plans new crackdown on copyright theft

WASHINGTON — The government pledged renewed efforts Tuesday to crack down on copyright theft, promising to aggressively pursue foreign and domestic counterfeiters of movies, CDs and other items that cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year.

Billed as the first meeting of its kind, the White House gathered Vice President Joe Biden, several Cabinet secretaries as well as chief executives from media conglomerates and trade groups to discuss ways to stem the growing piracy problem. Calling it a top priority, the Obama administration said it will draw on law enforcement, trade agreements and other pressure to force compliance with copyright laws.

“This is flat unadulterated theft, and it should be dealt with,” Biden said. “We are committed to making some real inroads — to stop the talking and start the acting.”

Among the new U.S. efforts will be a “reinvigorated” Justice Department task force to help prosecute counterfeiting and copyright theft, and increased enforcement by the FBI and Customs and Border Enforcement. The Commerce Department also is assisting in a new effort to prevent people from using camcorders to illegally tape movies in theaters around the world, and will push global and bilateral treaties aimed at protecting intellectual property.

Congress recently approved $30 million in funding for new FBI agents, federal prosecutors and local and state enforcement grants by cracking down on theft of movies and other intellectual property. The Senate this month also confirmed Victoria Espinel, a former assistant U.S. trade representative, as the government’s first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

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