Patent Piracy

Jon Dudas recently testified about IP piracy. Here is an exerpt from his prepared speech:

During a House International Relations Committee hearing in 2003, the Secretary General of Interpol identified a disturbing potential trend when he testified that IP crime “is becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups.” A customs expert with the European Commission recently stated that al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are among organizations believed to be using counterfeit goods to launder money and fund their activities. Mr. James Moody, former chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Organized Crime/Drug Operations Division, has stated that counterfeiting is likely to become “the crime of the 21st Century.”

Dudas reports that the IP crime and enforcement have become a top priority at the department of commerce. The people at GNU have their own philosophy on piracy:

Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as “piracy.” In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnaping and murdering the people on them. If you don’t believe that illegal copying is just like kidnaping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “prohibited copying” or “unauthorized copying” are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”

Many patent attorneys probably believed that, in their practice, they could avoid the moral dilemmas faced by criminal defense attorneys. As patent infringement becomes demonized as a crime, those dilemmas may become more frequent. Read the book.