Recently, I used the word "Wow" in the title of a post because a hearing held by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary produced bipartisan calls for broad voluntary cooperation to ensure that Internet commerce--like real-world American Commerce--abides by the rule of law, including those rules of law that prohibit copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting.
What inspired me about those calls to restore the rule of law was not that they were substantively controversial. For example, the World Bank estimates that intangible capital accounts for 80% of the wealth in the developed world, and that 57% of that intangible capital arises from the rule of law--including all those government-granted monopoly rights that most call "private-property rights" See The World Bank, Where Is the Wealth of Nations? 20, 87 (2006). (Education was the next-largest contributor; it accounted for 36% of intangible capital.) In effect, the World Bank thus concluded that the rule of law accounts for almost 50% of American wealth. Obviously, an Internet that fails to preserve rule of law will thus become a job-killing economic catastrophe for the United States.
Rather, what inspired me was that in this case, doing the right thing required political courage. Simultaneously telling many huge industries that they need to step up and act affirmatively to plug breaches in the rule of law that are not yet harming them is no small feat for any federal official.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I was thus equally impressed that President Obama's Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria Espinel, sent precisely the same message. But when I attended USPTO and NTIA's joint Copyright Policy Symposium last Thursday, I did wonder whether other Administration officials would support the IPEC's call to action.
They did. Official after official supported the IPEC's message unequivocally: Because all American businesses ultimately depend on the rule of law, all American businesses need to cooperate to create a free-market-friendly Internet economy in which the rule of law prevails and counterfeiting and piracy do not. That is a bold, true, and inspiring message, and I commend the President and his team for--as the academes might say--for being united in "speaking truth to power."