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Copyright: Empowering Innovation and Creativity

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From the printing press, to motion pictures, to recorded sound, to the Internet, for its entire history copyright law has evolved and developed in response to new developments in technology and the marketplace. And today, the U.S. copyright system stands as a cornerstone of a vibrant creative economy that is unparalleled in the world -- adding $631 billion and over 7.5 million direct and indirect jobs to the U.S. economy in 2010, according to the Department of Commerce, making the United States a world leader in creativity, technological innovation and economic growth.

This past week, I had the opportunity to address members of the Los Angeles Copyright Society about the reviews of copyright laws that are currently underway around the world. And I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this issue today.

As advocates for the creators and makers of some of the most incredible creative content in the world, the Motion Picture Association of America welcomes the ongoing discussion of the importance of copyright, based on facts, experience, and rational analysis. We are confident that out of this discussion will emerge a renewed affirmation of the benefits to all of a copyright law that encourages and rewards creativity and breakthrough innovation, promotes distribution and enjoyment of America's most beloved stories and characters, and takes a firm stand against criminals who undermine this vibrant system.

Accordingly, we believe that any such discussion must focus on certain fundamental tenets that create the foundation of sound copyright policy and that are absolutely vital to any meaningful and informed discussion of this issue:

First, copyright must empower creativity, innovation, and the dissemination of knowledge by ensuring that creators have a fair chance to be compensated for their creative efforts.

Second, copyright must benefit consumers by promoting free markets and competition. By recognizing well-defined and enforceable property rights, it incentivizes creators to take risks.

Third, copyright must support an Internet that works for everyone. Copyright must promote creativity, while also promoting new technologies and business models, like those that have emerged with the growth of the Internet.

Fourth, copyright must provide creators with modern protections. Technology and the marketplace are evolving faster than the law. For that reason, copyright law should be flexible enough to accommodate future technological change. Laws that are targeted too narrowly at regulating the use of specific technologies are destined to become obsolete.

And fifth, copyright must provide for incentives and accountability. As infringement grows more widespread, sound copyright policy must recognize that the solution to such problems is in society's broad interest. And any revised copyright act must include provisions that ensure the effective protections of creators' rights.

Today, the copyright debate has grown extremely polarized. But the founders of our republic considered copyright so important to unlocking the creative and economic potential of this country that they explicitly called for its protection and promotion in our Constitution.

We are willing to work with others to review and update these laws to better reflect changes in technology that have occurred over the years. But we will not support a "mock review" that becomes nothing more than a gutting of copyright law as we and previous generations have known it, and our founders intended.

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