Vice President Joe Biden led a round table meeting of high ranking government officials and entertainment industry executives at the White House conference center today, where he pledged that the Obama administration would work to combat piracy in the rapidly changing technological age.
Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller were just two of the officials in attendance at the meeting, which the White House billed as the first of its kind. Others included Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.
“This is a problem that the United States cannot solve by itself,” said Holder. “We want to confront these nations, quite frankly, where too much of this occurs.”
Holder announced that the Justice Department would be setting up an intellectual property enforcement training and technical assistance program to provide resources to train state and local officials on how to investigate and prevent intellectual property crimes.
While the FBI has been offering such training previously, Biden said this was the first time the government had been making a coordinated effort, which he called “long overdue.”
Biden said he was offended by the violation of copyrights, which he called “flat unadulterated theft.” He said it was important to get the “all the major players in one place, in one room, with one overall, overarching strategy on how to deal with what is a serious, serious problem facing this country.
In a statement, the Motion Picture Association of America said: “We especially appreciate the Vice President’s long history of support for the protection of intellectual property, and thank him for his continued leadership defending American workers and businesses.”
“I’ve been in this battle with y’all since I don’t know how long,” said Biden. “The problem has gotten worse. Intellectual piracy is costing this country and all of you billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, and unless we better coordinate with all the resources of the federal government to deal with this problem, it’s likely to only get worse.”
Holder said he would reinvigorate a DOJ task force on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. “We want to convene an international meeting to start work with our international partners,” said Holder.
At the conclusion of the remarks by government officials, press members were escorted out of the room before the conversation with the industry officials began. CEOs declined to speak with a small group of reporters when they emerged over 50 minutes later, a half hour longer than anticipated.
One consumer group, Public Knowledge, said it was “extremely disappointed to learn of the White House meeting to be held later today on the issue of intellectual property and ‘piracy’,” according to Daily Finance.
“No consumer or public-interest groups, technology companies, technology associations or Internet service providers are on the guest list,” said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge. “No one who questions the need for draconian governmental policies on behalf of the privileged special interest group for whom this meeting is being held is on the guest list.”
UPDATE 12/16: The White House meeting came a day after DOJ Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer and John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security, held a news conference to announce that authorities had seized $26 million in counterfeit goods earlier this month in a joint operation with Mexico.
The announcement about Operation Holiday Hoax took place at the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Crystal City, Va., on Monday. Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA); and Mitch Bainwol, his counterpart at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), were also on hand. Both entertainment industry groups have pushed hard for strong intellectual property enforcement.
List of Attendees
Main Justice obtained a list from the White House of those who were confirmed to be in attendance at the Tuesday summit:
The Honorable Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Attorney General
The Honorable Gary Locke
United States Secretary of Commerce
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
United States Secretary of Homeland Security
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Honorable John T. Morton
Assistant Secretary, United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement
Department of Homeland Security
The Honorable David Kappos
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and
Director, United States Patent & Trademark Office
The Honorable Douglas A. Smith
Assistant Secretary, Office of the Private Sector
Department of Homeland Security
Senior Advisor and Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
The White House
Mark J. Sullivan
Director, United States Secret Service
Chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment
Executive Vice President, Time Warner Inc.
Chairman & CEO, Viacom
CEO, NBC Universal
General Counsel, NBC Universal
CEO, Warner Music Group
Vice President, Warner Music Group
President & CEO, Harper Collins
President & COO, Universal Music Group
Executive Vice President, Universal Music Group
Senior Vice President, The Walt Disney Company
Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Chairman & CEO, Motion Picture Association of America
Chairman & CEO, Recording Industry Association of America
International President, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage
Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of
the United States
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth
National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
President, Directors Guild of America
President & CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association
National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator, Screen Actors Guild
Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President
Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Office of Management &
Domestic Policy Advisor, Office of the Vice President
Senior Advisor for Crime Policy, Office of the Vice President
Counselor to the Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Justice
President & CEO, Entertainment Software Alliance
President & CEO, Business Software Alliance
White House CTO