Vice President Joe Biden on Friday forcefully criticized foreign countries that allow piracy of movies, music, and other technological products, and called for a “global economic order” that strongly guards against the theft of intellectual property.
Biden offered new trade pacts as one way to curtail piracy in other countries, an activity that has exploded in recent years in places like China and Indonesia.
“Today the face of piracy in your industry is changing,” Biden said during keynote remarks at the Creativity Conference in Washington. “Now the face of piracy is a computer screen in a far-off country sending a video around the world at the click of a mouse to rob you, steal you, of what is yours.”
He added that stealing intellectual property was akin to stealing physical items, such as cars.
“What the hell? What the heck’s the difference?” he said with a shrug.
Biden, who was a fierce defender of intellectual-property rights during his long tenure in the Senate, said that online piracy not only stunts U.S. growth but squanders other nation’s economic potential as well.
“What’s at stake here is a lot more than just the values of ideas,” Biden said. “It literally is the character of the countries involved in this theft. How can a nation call itself a law-abiding nation when they are stealing the most valuable intellectual ideas of our country?”
The Obama administration has been working on copyright agreements through the Trans Pacific Partnership, which some left-leaning and open Internet groups oppose. Protests over transparency and other issues have stalled negotiations, and some lawmakers have indicated they may be unwilling to give the president “fast-track authority” on trade agreements, which would set guidelines for negotiations in exchange for only up-and-down votes from Congress.
Also speaking Friday at the Creativity Conference was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who said consumers who engage in online piracy by downloading songs and shows for free will ultimately harm the industries producing that content because they “can’t compete with free.”
“If they want to see the next great motion picture that costs two or three hundred million dollars to make, they’ve got to pay for it,” Goodlatte told ABC’s Jon Karl. “If you don’t reward the creators, you’re not going to get the creativity.”
Goodlatte cochairs the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, and said he was thinking about changing its name because the word “piracy” lends “some romanticism to it.”
The Virginia Republican, who once strongly backed the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act before its grassroots-led demise, has tasked his committee with a year-long review of the nation’s copyright laws.