Theft of intellectual property costs U.S. businesses around $250 billion annually, as well as 750,000 American jobs. Globally, trade in illegitimate goods is worth more than $600 billion a year. "There are countries where 90% of the software that you buy, 90% of the movies, [and] 90% of the music is counterfeit," U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez said last week as he launched initiatives to fight intellectual-property theft.
Many buyers of pirated DVDs and designer knockoffs can't afford full price for the real thing, making the real damage done to the industry tough to pin down. Still, the Bush administration wants to make it harder for them to find cut-rate copies. It plans to appoint IP-rights experts in countries where such theft is endemic, such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia; create the Small Business Outreach program to help U.S. companies understand how they can protect their intellectual assets; and support a Global Intellectual Property Academy to educate foreign officials.
Convincing foreign officials to crack down on such theft, however, won't be easy.
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