Joe Biden Calls Intellectual Property Theft a 'Multibillion-Dollar' Issue

 Associated Press

Calling Hollywood "the world’s storyteller," Vice President Joe Biden told Washington's second annual Creativity Conference that increasing protection of intellectual property in the new digital economy is "a multibillion-dollar issue."

Fighting online piracy and other forms of digital theft is a critical item on Hollywood's policy agenda and Biden sounded a sympathetic note, pointing a finger at the countries that turn a blind eye to piracy. "What is at stake here is a lot more than just the value of ideas," he said. "It's literally the character of the countries involved in this theft.

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"America has been in the idea business for a long, long time," the vice president observed. "It's no surprise that the protection of intellectual property is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Today the face of piracy in your industry is changing. It used to be a man sitting in a theater with a camcorder. That camcoder was the size of a golf bag. The cameras are smaller now. The face of privacy is a computer server in a faraway country."

Biden said that along with musicians and athletes, Hollywood is American culture's ambassador to the rest of the world. "It's a pretty awesome responsibility," he said. "It's our responsibility together to create a global economic order where creativity and innovation can thrive."

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The Creativity Conference, which is co-sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America, Microsoft and ABC News, brings together leading figures from the worlds of entertainment, technology, media and business to discuss cutting-edge innovation and the social and policy issues that may inhibit it, such as intellectual piracy.

Biden was introduced by his old Senate friend and colleague, MPAA president Chris Dodd, whose introductory remarks credited the vice president with convincing China to further open its market to Hollywood films.

Labeling himself "the White House optimist," Biden told the audience that "America is hard-wired for innovation" and that "its true wealth is found in the creative minds of its people." Earlier, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also spoke about the importance of protecting intellectual property rights on the Internet. The entertainment industry, Goodlatte said, "can't complete with free. … The places that are havens for software pirates, we have to find a way to deal with that."

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