Safeguarding American Jobs by Protecting Intellectual Property
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) submitted a request to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last November urging them to properly enforce existing FTC laws to counter software piracy and theft. Earlier this month they gained new allies in this effort when a bipartisan group of members of the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) submitted a letter to the FTC calling on them to consider NAAG’s request. Among the signatories to the letter are ALEC Congressional Alumni Senator Mike Enzi (WY), Senator James Risch (ID) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL). [Senate SBE Letter] Both NAAG and SBE share a common goal – to stem the hemorrhaging of US manufacturing jobs. These jobs often leave for countries where software piracy rates range from 80 percent to over 90 percent.
Ninety-eight percent of America’s manufacturers are small businesses and the vast majority of them use legally purchased software. This places them at a serious competitive disadvantage against overseas manufacturing concerns which are using much less expensive pirated IT. NAAG cites as an example a California-based apparel manufacturer that must compete with an foreign manufacturer that steals over $14 million in software. In a business like apparel where profit margins are slim, $14 million can mean the difference between a firm’s success and failure.
Support for free markets is one of ALEC’s guiding principles, and the International Relations Task Force (IRTF) has a large body of policy that supports free trade. We also believe that competition is vital to free enterprise, is good for consumers and spurs innovation. But the IRTF also has a significant body of policy protecting intellectual property rights (IPR). When one competitor steals information technology (IT) it is violating accepted IPR and distorting true competition. A collaborative effort between state attorneys general and the FTC to enforce existing FTC laws seems a step in the right direction.