Piracy powwow draws leaders from biz, gov't


NBC Universal head Bob Wright is among dozens of CEOs and government mini-sters gathering in Geneva to-day for a major two-day meeting aimed at stamping out piracy and counterfeiting.

The meeting, named the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, is co-hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Customs Organization and Interpol.

Wright is a founding member of the Global Leadership Group for BASCAP, the Business Alliance to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, and has long called for concerted government and business action against piracy. He has argued that, in our digital age, anyone who has a new invention, creative idea or technological breakthrough is at risk of being ripped off.

Wright himself commissioned an NBC Universal study to quantify the overall cost of piracy and counterfeiting to companies around the world and came up with a figure of more than $600 billion a year, about equal to Australia's GDP. The findings also indicated that IP-based industries account for nearly 20% of the total — though this rose to 40% for U.S. exportable goods and services.

The Congress will gather other international organizations, government officials, judges, lawyers and representatives of rightsholders, including Universal Music vp David Benjamin, Microsoft associate general counsel David Finn and IFPI head of enforcement Iain Grant.

Attendees also will hear from Chinese Supreme Court vp Xiong Xuanguo, German economics minister Bernd Pfaffenbach, World Trade Organization deputy director general Rufus Yerxa, WIPO director general Kamil Idris, WCO secretary general Michel Danet and Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble.

According to WIPO, the economic costs of counterfeiting and piracy are growing every year.

"Today, almost every product on the market is a target of counterfeiting and piracy, endangering human health and safety and undermining economic development," the organization said. "The staggering economic costs of counterfeiting and piracy have a deep impact on the economy as a whole as they translate into lost earnings, lost jobs and lost tax revenues."