Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy

Feb 09. 2011
Photo: CTK Fotobanka (Czech Republic)

BySylvie FodorWhat do Interpol, Lego, Microsoft Office, Pirate Bay, Viagra, Vuitton and Wikileaks have in common?

This question brought over 800 delegates from more than 100 countries to Paris last week at the invitation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The conference was organised under the patronage of Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic. Other important personalities as well as major trade organisations such as the World Custom Organisation (WCO) or INTERPOL were represented.

The presence of high ranking personalities and world organisations undoubtlessly shows that the fight against infringement of intellectual property rights has become a top priority and a worldwide concern.

The US Immigration & Custom Enforcement (ICE) divides counterfeited good in four categories: Pharmaceutics, Health & Safety, Electronics, Movies & Music.

Under these circumstances, one may regret that this last aspect of IPR, Copyright, was under-represented at the conference.

In many instances counterfeited good are linked to international criminality. Consumer safety is therefore the main driver of anti-counterfeiting policies. This is obvious in the case of pharmaceutics or children toys. In these cases, counterfeiting and piracy may hurt or kill people. Even a pirated software may damage computers. In contrast, copyright infringement will neither damage a machine nor kill anybody.

But why would a Vuitton bag, let say, deserve more attention than a pirated film?

The reason may be that, in the case of copyrighted content, the pirates, too often, are the consumers themselves. They are not killing anybody, hurting themselves or damaging their computer. They are hurting the creator but don't feel this way. In fact, they feel they have a right to do so! When in February 2011, the ICE seized infringing websites, bloggers accused them of infringing the freedom of speech!

Wikileak and Pirates Bay: même combat!

Ignorance leads consumers to buy fake but dangerous medecines. In copyright, this is not just ignorance. Confusion is the rule. Although we may be experiencing an anti-copyright wave (unfortunately at WIPO too), support exists. (As published on this website, even private on-line companies, such as Google, have started to understand that content online is valuable.)

Awareness raising and consumer education, more time, are necessary.

Photos, videos and outcome statement of the Global Congress available here