In the last decade, we have heard many people talking about privacy rights and keeping the internet free and the protections of intellectual property.
Of course, every red blooded American wants to keep the internet open, collaborative, innovative, and even let the debates continue as it is part of our culture.
For whatever reason, nothing happened with IP protections during the Obama administration. Maybe the Trump administration can finally assemble some experts who can deal with this.
Overall, there is a big difference between “fair use” and the crimes of mass piracy and counterfeiting. While the world is big, it is also getting smaller. When you think about the ease of piracy with technology and the lack of enforceability, we are talking about billions if not trillions of dollars that is being pirated and stolen each year.
Now this money is not being exclusively stolen from Wall Street, Google, or Bill Gates, it is being hijacked from local working folks: artists, programmers, musicians, and single mothers and so forth. People who are trying to put food on the table for their families.
Copyright infringement is illegal and so is trademark infringement. We should be protected whether we have created a book, a song, poetry, essays, computer code, pictures, graphics, or other. In contrast, the music industry survived in a slow conversion from tangible CD/album sales to end-users downloading songs for a small but profitable price.
The book world is going all digital, and hopefully writers will continue to be protected like musicians. Also, the movie world is very dynamic with “on demand” and costs of sales are reduced greatly through direct distribution.
However, you must consider that the world has 7 billion people, and the U.S. is a tiny part of that with a meager 350 million or so consumers. Thus, anyone offshore can copy some great idea invented or created by a taxpaying citizen of one country and pirate it in other countries.
Or a former disgruntled employee can steal data, content, images, trade secrets and so forth, and sell it offshore and around the world from offshore locations. The bad news is that the major ISP search providers and governments do not seem to have the mind, money or the manpower to regulate or police all of the phony websites or search results, and different laws may apply in different countries.
However, social media and search providers make billions in advertising regardless of the text or contents origination because ISP’s profit from information, trademarks and text that people are searching for.
In a perfect world, you would search Yahoo or Google or BING/MSN and find the company that you are looking for. However, there are times that you may search for a company and the most meaningful results are some imposter operation offshore that is counterfeiting, pirating, or selling trademarked and copyrighted goods which are either the same or confusingly similar to the authentic proprietor. In the end, billions go down the drain, and the U.S. government and the: states, cities, and counties suffer from losses in tax revenues.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) if enacted could bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites. This means that the big search engines could not include results with violations. Presently, a DMCA copyright complaint may work to request that a search engine remove a copyright infringement, but it must be an obvious violation.
Overall, the SOPA is a key international debate. It must be said that our laws and courts must keep up with technology, but that is not happening at this time.
There must be a way to protect: small business, artists, creative writers, teachers, researchers, inventors and investors.
Here are some US laws, that are on the books but difficult to enforce unless you file suit in federal courts. The question is whether new laws will make it easier to stop piracy, trade secrets violations, and counterfeiting and the like.
17 U.S.C. § 501 (copyright infringement);
17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b) (criminal copyright infringement for profit);
17 U.S.C. § 506(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(c) (criminal copyright infringement without a profit motive);
17 U.S.C. §§ 1203, 1204 (circumvention of copyright protection);
15 U.S.C. § 1114(1) (unauthorized use in commerce of a reproduction, counterfeit, or colorable imitation of a federally registered trademark);
15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (trademark infringement due to false designation, origin, or sponsorship);
15 U.S.C. § 1125(c) (dilution of famous trademarks);
15 U.S.C. §§ 1125(d) and 1129 (cybersquatting and cyber piracy in connection with Internet domain names);
18 U.S.C. § 2318 (counterfeit/illicit labels and counterfeit documentation and packaging for copyrighted works);
19 U.S.C. § 1337 (unfair practices in import trade);
18 U.S.C. § 2320 (trafficking in counterfeit trademarks);
19 U.S.C. § 1526(e), 15 U.S.C. § 1124 (importing merchandise bearing counterfeit marks)
18 U.S.C. § 2320(h) (transshipment and exportation of counterfeit goods);
18 U.S.C. § 1831 (trade secret theft to benefit a foreign entity); and
18 U.S.C. § 1832 (theft of trade secrets for commercial advantage).
18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7). (Identity theft statute)
George Mentz JD MBA CWM Chartered Wealth Manager ® is a licensed attorney and CEO of GAFM ® global education, which is an ISO 29990 Certified professional development company operating in over 50 nations.
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