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Government Task Force To Confront IP Crimes

IATSE General Board Endorses Obama 2nd Term

In direct response to a meeting with Vice President Biden and Obama administration Cabinet members relating to the prevention of the digital theft of motion picture product, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the formation of an Intellectual Property Task Force as part of a broad intellectual property (IP) enforcement initiative.

The United States Justice Department is now actively committed to confronting the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes. The formation of the Task Force follows the summit meeting convened on December 15, 2009 by Vice President Biden, a long-standing champion of U.S. intellectual property rights holders. President Loeb spoke at that meeting on behalf of entertainment industry workers who create and work on product that is routinely stolen at an estimated cost to the industry of $6 billion a year.

President Loeb stated, “It’s very encouraging that our meeting resulted in the formation of this Task Force, which will send a strong message that the federal government is behind us in our efforts to stop the serious harm that intellectual property theft has on working families.”

Among the attendees at that December meeting along with AG Holder and Vice President Biden were Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, FBI Director Robert Mueller, U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and newly appointed Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel. Also present were top level representatives of AFTRA, DGA, SAG, and the MPAA, as well as executives of several major studios, broadcast networks, record labels, and publishing houses.

Discussed at that meeting was the importance of stronger enforcement and Vice President Biden supported actions to raise the priority of combating IP theft and improving coordination, including the establishment of the Task Force that has just been announced.

Attorney General Holder stated, “The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic wellbeing. The Department of Justice must confront this threat with a strong and coordinated response. This Task Force will allow us to identify and implement a multi-faceted strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat this type of crime.”

Added Vice President Biden, “Theft of intellectual property does significant harm to our economy and endangers the health and safety of our citizens. This Administration is committed to stronger and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights, and this new task force is a step in the right direction.”

The Task Force, to be chaired by the Deputy Attorney General, will focus on strengthening efforts to combat intellectual property crimes through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as international counterparts. It will also monitor and coordinate overall intellectual property enforcement efforts at the Department, with an increased focus on the international aspects of IP enforcement, including the links between IP crime and international organized crime. Building on previous efforts in the Department to target intellectual property crimes, the Task Force will also serve as an engine of policy development to address the evolving technological and legal landscape of this area of law enforcement.

As part of its mission, the Task Force will work closely with the recently established Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), housed in the Executive Office of the President and charged with drafting an Administration-wide strategic plan on intellectual property. In addition, the mission of the Task Force will also include assisting IPEC in recommending improvements to intellectual property enforcement efforts.

“Americans produce more technologies, more brands, more creative works and more innovation than any other nation on Earth,” said Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator. “President Obama is committed to ensuring that the value created by American workers and enjoyed by communities around the world is protected. The Justice Department’s new task force will play a critical role in supporting the Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect American intellectual property and the millions of jobs that depend on it.”

The Task Force will include representatives from the offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Associate Attorney General; the Criminal Division; the Civil Division; the Antitrust Division; the Office of Legal Policy; the Office of Justice Programs; the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee; the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the FBI.

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 160,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live events, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.

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