Following on the Institute for Policy Innovation’s homage to “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and their timely press release on the protection of intellectual property rights, is there not a better day than today to blast away at the scourge of counterfeiting and piracy?
American manufacturers have been taking a hammering due to piracy, to the tune of over $250 billion a year in lost revenues and an estimated loss of up to 750,000 jobs so far. The House jumped to the rescue, passing the PRO-IP Act by a vote of 410-11, and now the Senate is trying to do the same. Note the operative word, “trying.”
The “Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008,” (S. 3325) will go a long way to help shore up IP rights of manufacturers. But it’s not just about manufacturers, it’s about workers and consumers. Oh, and let’s not forget the economy, either. Unfortunately, the Senate IP bill is hitting some snags on the GOP side of the aisle, even though this is truly a bi-partisan bill. And that’s the sad part, as this is something that everyone agrees needs to be fixed.
The Senate IP bill is definitely the last, best chance this year to help aforementioned workers, consumers and economy. If we don’t get it done in the next week, the tides won’t be right for this for probably another two years, what with the new Congress and Administration focusing on bigger fish to fry. And that’s going to hurt a lot of folks.
Specifically, workers are going to be hurt because counterfeit junk displaces the quality products that US workers make (and are often unwittingly bought by consumers). A study by economics firm LECG figured that cutting piracy by even 5-10% would create at least 174,000 new tax-paying jobs a year, after 3 years. In case you didn’t know, pirates don’t pay taxes. I guess that’s the allure of being a brigand, although I don’t know if scurvy factors in on the downside.
Consumers are going to be hurt because a critical check on counterfeit auto parts, airplane parts, food, medical devices, electrical supplies and pharmaceuticals will be missing. And don’t forget the economy. LECG also estimates that cutting piracy by 10% would increase the overall US economic output by at least $27 billion, as domestic production would reclaim the market from pirate imports.
You’d think that in the face of all the harm that piracy has done to the US economy, American workers and consumers, Congress would try to find a way around the minor roadblocks and, paraphrasing H.L. Mencken, “spit on their hands, haul up the black flag and start slitting throats.”