For the movie and television industry, and the 2.2 million American workers who depend on its creative products for their jobs, the Internet has become a major component and driving force of growth.
The fact is movies, television, music and other forms of intellectual property matter to our nation's economy, especially when it comes to American jobs and business development. And the Internet matters deeply to these industries and their workers. So it is extremely important that we have a discussion about the best policies to preserve free speech, promote innovation, and grow our economy.
To ensure our industry's continued growth as a job generator, it is critical that those who treasure the freedom of the Internet also recognize and respect creative content and work together to prevent its theft and distribution. The bottom line: we value and respect the Internet, and we ask that those who use the Internet respect our content and our workers.
There are those who seek to distort the debate and claim the protection of intellectual property and Internet freedom cannot coexist. Nothing could be further from the truth as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just written in a letter to Representative Howard Berman, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who asked her to address this issue.
She wrote, "The State Department is strongly committed to advancing both Internet freedom and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet. Indeed, these two priorities are consistent."
Secretary Clinton continued, "The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet is critical for the United States, for its creators and inventors, and for the jobs it promotes and the economic promise it provides. There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet."
American workers and businesses are fortunate to have Secretary Clinton and Representative Berman take such a leadership role on this issue.
The connection between intellectual property rights and the economy may be a surprise for some. A new report by the International Intellectual Property Alliance lays out exactly how critical the U.S. copyright industries -- industries whose primary purpose is to create, produce, distribute, and exhibit copyright material -- are to our nation's economy.
These industries -- music, TV, film, books, radio, newspapers, and magazines -- contributed nearly a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2010. That's more than six percent of our GDP.
More than 10.6 million people are employed in copyright industries, so nearly one in ten private sector American workers depend on intellectual property for their jobs, to put food on the table and for their retirement income and other benefits.
Yet that intellectual property is being stolen every day -- nearly one-quarter of all Internet traffic is copyright-infringing -- and that is costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs each year.
There is much at stake for many businesses besides the copyright industries, including consumer electronics manufacturers. Consumers want content that is delivered by these manufacturers. The movie and TV industry relies on these manufacturers to distribute its content to consumers. All sides need to work together to find a way to target content theft.
We must keep the Internet free and open. And we can while promoting innovation and preserving jobs. Like Secretary Clinton, we are strongly committed to achieving both goals.