Creative Community Spells out Their Position on Intellectual Property

Article excerpt

Below is a letter from the creativity community to the President emphasizing the importance of promoting and protecting creativity and copyright.

April 20, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama

Office of the President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The undersigned unions, artists' alliances, companies, trade associations and 501(c)(3) educational and research organizations write to you on behalf of the millions of Americans whose livelihoods and ability to create depend on effective intellectual property protection. We are responding to a letter sent to you on April 2, 2009 urging that future appointments to intellectual property positions in your administration "reflect the diversity of stakeholders affected by IP policy."

We agree completely with the authors of the April 2 letter that presidential appointees should "promote innovation and advance the cause of progress in the sciences and useful arts." That is absolutely the right approach for any public official tasked with promoting intellectual property protection, and we feel that your appointees to date have reflected that philosophy.

Enforcement of copyrights and patents and protecting the freedom to create and be compensated for it are essential components of promoting the progress of sciences and arts, as articulated so clearly by our Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, when they enumerated it expressly among the powers granted to Congress. Indeed, the "Progress Clause" is the only place in which the word "right" occurs in the unamended Constitution. Similarly, enforcement of trademarks protects consumers while providing incentives to create better products.

The authors of the April 2 letter would have you believe that you must choose between safeguarding IP protection on the one hand and promoting innovation on the other. This supposed conflict is itself an invention, and we must avoid the false dichotomy that suggests that there is a conflict between the rights of authors and inventors and the need for innovation or creativity. Intellectual property drives innovation and creativity, from the production of new creative works to the development of consumer electronics and medicine.

All of these products of creative minds in the United States are valued the world over and make an outsized contribution to our balance of trade. Research by Public Policy Professor Richard Florida concluded that the creative industries, including copyright and patent industries, employ 38 million U.S. workers and that those workers' annual wages and salaries total more than those of the manufacturing and service sectors combined.

Simply put, intellectual property is the engine of the U.S. economy.

Copyright enables businesses as diverse as music and movies, visual arts, video game and computer software, and publishing to exist and thrive. …