What’s IPR you ask? Intellectual property rights. The U.S. Department of State once again asked lawyers from MLA to meet with a delegation of journalists and media lawyers from Paraguay. The Paraguayans are interested in how lawyers in the United States assist artists and record labels in halting piracy and counterfeiting. While the U.S. music business fights file sharing piracy online, the RIAA and MPAA might be interested in knowing that in Paraguay, counterfeit DVDs and compact disks of copyright-protected works from the U.S. are an enormous problem. It’s such big business selling counterfeit,… the Paraguayan journalists told us, that wealthy entrepreneurs back the pirates. The police are fearful of raiding stores and warehouses to seize counterfeit stock. MLA lawyers, Frank Gorman, John Lee, E. Scott Johnson and Cynthia Sanders and MSBA Intellectual Property Section members Julie Harada, Bill McComas and Munachi Nsofer, and Romanian lawyer Sorina Mislea discussed the U.S. approach to IPR enforcement and how journalists are key to changing a culture of piracy.
The upshot? Just a century ago, counterfeit copies of Charles Dickens’ books were sold throughout the U.S. It was not until very recently that U.S. authors and other copyright owners forced a change in U.S, law ending counterfeit and bringing the U.S. into compliance with international laws. China is more interested in enforcing international anti-counterfeit today than just a couple years ago. Paraguay, with the help of these young journalists, will eventually see the benefit to society of strong protection for IPR.