Today, Intellectual property accounts for 20% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and nearly 40% of U.S. economic growth. There are more than 55 million workers at all educational and skill levels in America’s IP-intensive industries. IP-Intensive industries have a 30% higher salary than non-IP-intensive industries. Approximately 74% of total U.S. exports are in the IP-Intensive industries as well. Which means in 2011 exports rose to $1 trillion.
When SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) were brought to the table, many foreign piracy sites were affected and participants went into blackout mode. Blackout means the sites literally went black or put warnings on their website describing what could happen to the Internet if these bills were passed. Participants in the blackout included Google, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr and 75,000 other sites. The pros to SOPA/PIPA were that it would help American copyright holders and would shut down foreign websites that pirate copyrighted material. However, the cons of the bill meant there would be an increased cost to companies and it would stifle innovation by requiring constant link checking.
While a lot of internet companies opposed the bills such as Google, Twitter, Ebay, and Yahoo; there were supporters in the act as well. These supporters included trademark dependent companies such as Nike, L’oreal, Sony, Nintendo, Pfizer, Dell, and Microsoft. But who were the supporters of the acts when it came down to this year’s election?
Both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama both opposed the idea of SOPA/PIPA. Obama stated that he would veto the bill if it were to pass. On January 20, 2012 the votes on PIPA/SOPA were indefinitely postponed.
If SOPA/PIPA aren’t the answer, then what is? A few different ideas have been brought to the table to end piracy and one of them was to increase the government’s ability to enforce IP laws. Another was to fight IP theft online by working with Congress, the administration, and the private sector to cut off rogue websites. Also, advance trade agreements with modern-day IP provisions urging Congress to approve the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and support inclusion of the highest IP standards.