Intellectual Property Theft: A National Security Issue?

IP theftLet’s pretend that you like to rip music from peer-to-peer sites like BitTorrent and LimeWire and pull copies of photos from picture sharing sites for your blog, without giving attribution to the photographer. It’s just a little wrong to make a single copy of others’ copyrighted work—right?

Well, a new 100-page report on theft of United States-based intellectual property (IP) has produced some staggering statistics that are worth some attention and deep thought. In that theft report, which the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property released this week, U.S. IP theft costs more than $300 billion annually puts a significant dent in the profits enjoyed by U.S. industry. Wrongful appropriation of IP can also raise security concerns because of its effect on the economy and long-term innovation.

The Commission that issued this report was set up to document and analyze the extent of the theft issues involving China and other jurisdictions known for their active industries focused on collecting confidential and competitively important information from private and government sources. It found that 50-80% of the IP theft involves China, but the report concluded that substantial theft activities originate in Russia and India as well.

What solutions or suggestions did the Commission provide in this IP theft report? Well, first, it advises that legislative changes aimed at improving enforcement tools related to hacking and other theft activities are sorely needed. Also, the Commission suggests diplomatic initiatives, greater Federal Trade Commission activity in this area, and immigration reform involving green cards that is focused on slowing the “brain drain” that causes technical graduates to return to their own country and share technical training and knowledge with the local competitors.

Do you think IP theft is a national problem that requires action? If so, you can start solving it by practicing good stewardship involving IP at home.

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