Saturday, February 19, 2011

Make Your Voice be Heard

As you might recall from my first Killer Fiction post 2 weeks ago, my day job is as an intellectual property attorney. And once upon a time, I worked on the Hill as a legislative counsel to a Congressman, specializing in IP issues, including combatting piracy.

It is estimated that IP theft costs the US economy more than $100 billion every year, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. As a writer who is also an intellectual property attorney, it's not surprising that this is an important issue of mine.

During the last Congress, a bill (formerly known as Senate Bill (SB) 3804, the Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act), was passed by unanimous consent through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has indicated he will introduce similar legislation again this session.

"Bipartisan legislation aimed at stopping this criminal activity received unanimous support in the Judiciary Committee last fall. This hearing is another step in our efforts to determine how best to bolster tools to help law enforcement combat this illegal activity," said Leahy. "This is neither a Republican nor a Democratic priority. It is another essential part of our efforts to strengthen our nation's economy."

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 on "Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American Intellectual Property."

Among the witnesses was one of my favorite authors, best-selling legal thriller writer and attorney, Scott Turow, who also just happens to be the President of the Authors Guild, the nation's largest membership organization of professional writers.

You can watch a webcast of the hearing here:

You can make your voice heard. Please participate in the legislative process by letting your Members of Congress know that you support their efforts to combat piracy.

Nora Roberts did her part. Can you read her letter of support for the former SB 3804 here:

(Can I take a moment here to go all fangirl? She moderated a workshop I taught a couple of years ago on basic copyright law at the RWA National Conference in DC. Nora Roberts moderated ME. What's wrong with this picture?)

But fangirl or not, Nora is right. People who pirate your book are stealing, plain and simple. As she told the Senate Judicary Committee:
"We look to you to make the laws that protect us, that protect our work, that protect and respect creative property. We look to you to stand up for us and against piracy and its growing sense of entitlement. Without writers there will be no stories. Without stories, the world will be a smaller and much less vibrant place. Please don't let that happen."

Please show your support for this important legislation by writing your local newspaper and contacting your Senators.

No comments: