It sounds like a bit of an abstraction, but if you think about that stack of shrink-wrapped DVDs with misprinted sleeves and noticeable blemishes you once spotted at a market in Thailand, you’ll begin to realize what it is Victoria Espinel (referred to by some as the copyright czar) has targeted in her recent plans for anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting procedures in online and international markets.
If you’ve ever seen In The Loop, you may be skeptical of new governmental offices created for seemingly obscure purposes, but it appears that Espinel’s plan, which she details here at the White House website, has a very clear purpose:
This office was established to coordinate the efforts of the different parts of the government that work hard to stop intellectual property theft.
As the developed world has become increasingly techno-gizmo-ized, so too have its legal procedures, which some feel have been too easily undermined by international agents. The plan has over thirty “recommendations for improvement” for stopping the theft of intellectual property. The list includes steps for the U.S. government to lead by example by ensuring that they themselves do not purchase counterfeit property; guidelines for transparency in enforcement procedures (a Herculean task, considering that the office is comprised of 15 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 20 FBI agents); and advice for working more effectively with foreign trade organizations to ensure more accurate (and lawful) enforcement of the new anti-piracy plans.
Essentially at the root of the plan is money. As Espinel writes,
The American economy is driven by the innovation and creativity of its people. We need to protect the ideas and artistry that has made us so successful.
Pirates and counterfeiters understand the desirability of American media (movies, music, art, etc.) and American currency (money, IDs, passports, etc.) and attempt to capitalize on this demand. If better regulated, as the office understands it, the rightful owners of the intellectual property will get what they deserve, rather than being robbed by hustlers and counterfeiters.
If done well, this plan will target the true thieves robbing the industry. If done poorly, you might be hearing a knock on your door soon for torrenting those old episodes of Stella.