‘Piracy Is Theft, Clean and Simple’ US Vice President Says

Vice President Joe Biden introduced the Joint Strategic Plan to combat intellectual property theft today. In his speech Biden declared war on 'pirate' websites, both foreign and domestic, arguing that piracy is theft and a potential threat to national security.

The United States Government has made up its mind on how to tackle copyright infringement related issues in the coming years. After having consulted the public and a wide range of experts, the first Joint Strategic Plan of Obama’s administration to combat intellectual property infringement was unveiled today.

“Piracy hurts, it hurts our economy,” was one of the first lines Vice President Joe Biden spoke today, setting the tone for his grim speech. According to the new plan, piracy is a major threat to the US economy and a global crackdown is needed to save businesses from going bankrupt.

Interestingly, Biden’s statement stands in contrast with what the Government Accountability Office told US congress earlier this year, as it concluded that there is virtually no evidence for the claimed million dollar losses by the entertainment industry.

“Lack of data hinders efforts to quantify impacts of counterfeiting and piracy,” was one of the main conclusions from their report. In fact, copyright infringements may also benefit the entertainment industries and third parties, the Government Accountability said, adding that piracy could actually benefit the economy.

Nevertheless, Biden said that the US was going to “lead by example” and crack down on websites that allow the public to download and share copyrighted works. In addition, the US will ‘push’ foreign governments to do the same in their countries. Whether this ‘push’ would include threats similar to the ones the US made against Sweden over The Pirate Bay was left in the dark.

To top it off the Vice President reiterated the words commonly uttered by pro-copyright lobbyists such as the RIAA and MPAA. “Piracy is theft, clean and simple, it’s smash and grab,” Biden said, comparing unauthorized downloading to robbing a jewelry store. Although semantically incorrect, since ‘theft’ implies that something is taken away and not copied, the message is clear.

Aside from digital goods the US is also going to crack down on counterfeit products. According to Biden these may even be a threat to public health or national security, referring to the dramas that could come from soldiers wearing fake Kevlar vests.

On the digital side no websites or file-sharing applications were specifically named by Biden, nor are any listed in the Joint Strategic Plan. However, we expect that quite a few BitTorrent sites will be targeted, directly or indirectly.

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