ID-100286160                                                                                                      Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/

Copyright is one of those increasingly rare issues that seems to remain impervious to political in-fighting. That’s the case so far, and we hope it remains so as the political year heats up. The protection of private property is one of those few issues on which he Constitution is grounded and fairly unambiguous.

Today, a number of groups and organizations released an open letter to the newly established 114th Congress. There is considerable bi-partisan support for the letter, a  great deal of support across party and ideological lines. A brief note of concern, however, may be in order. A number of organizations that have signed the letter have proven to be lightning rods on other, more controversial issues. It’s our sincere hope that opposition to the letter won’t be merely reflexive and that supporters of property rights can focus on the content of the letter.

Here are a few of the highlights from the letter:

  • Intellectual Property Rights are Grounded in the Constitution: That’s in Article 1, Section 8: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their writings and discoveries.”
  • Intellectual Property Rights Promote Free Speech and Expression: By making it possible for creators to support themselves by generating original, protected content, we ensure their freedom and the ability to continue in their creative pursuits.
  • Intellectual Property Rights Are Vital to Economic Competitiveness: Employment in the most intensive IP related sectors of industry in this country generate income and jobs. The most recent report on IP related jobs issued by the Department of Commerce and the US Patent and Trademark Office (2010) indicates that direct employment in those industries accounted for 27.1 million jobs. Indirect employment accounted for 12.9 million jobs. Together that’s 27.7 percent of jobs in the economy.
  • Intellectual Property Rights are Integral to Consumer Protection and National Security: The ability to make educated choices and to be protected against counterfeit goods and services safeguards the personal safety of consumers as well as the nation’s overall national security.
  • Intellectual Property Rights Must Be Respected and Protected on the Internet: Because you can take it doesn’t mean that it’s right (or legal) to take it. As the Internet becomes increasingly the engine of our economy, its security must be safeguarded.