Leahy Urges Holistic Approach To Content Protection

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Saying that the $1 trillion in online IP theft the Obama administration identified last year was "shocking" and "totally unacceptable," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) told a World Copyright Summit Wednesday that the participants needed to get over their differences and work together on copyright protection.

"If somebody went to a bank and stole $20 million, there would be headlines everywhere. We have to protect intellectual property," he said, "but we have to do it in a way to promote its growth."

Leahy said that preventing that theft remained "a high priority" for him.

The senator said that there needs to be a comprehensive and coorinated IP-protection strategy. But he also conceded that the technology moves faster than Congress' ability to keep up with it and that it extends beyond the chamber's reach.

"The online world doesn't recognize international boundaries." he said, and suggested that fighting online IP theft can not be a case of different countries saying: "OK, we're just going top protect ourselves. It doesn't work that way any more."

Saying an overhaul of copyright protections was long overdue, Leahy pointed that since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed in 1998, broadband adoption has tripled, paving the way for companies like Google.

He pointed out that over-the-air broadcasters in the U.S. are about to make the switch-over to the digital world June 12. "Well, the digital world brings with it the perils of piracy for content owners," he added.

Leahy said that all content sectors, entertainment, news, music, have to work together as well. "Either we are all protected," he said, "or none are."

The Judiciary Committee has a number of copyright issues on its plate, including a bill granting per-performance rights for radio airplan and re-authoraization of the blanket license for satellite delivery of distant signals.

The second annual conference was sponsored by CISAC, The International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies.