Too few people who download entertainment illegally recognize that they are stealing wages and benefits from workers, Paul Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) told a bipartisan Capitol Hill press conference today.
Almeida joined with members of Congress and business leaders to discuss the continuing harm illegal downloads and other online infringement or counterfeits pose to American jobs and the economy. According to estimates, intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion every year and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.
Almeida pointed out that among the 23 unions that are members of DPE, nine represent hundreds of thousands of creative professionals and other workers in the arts, entertainment and media industries. Their members include actors, stage employees and technicians, musicians, writers, editors and many others. Almeida told reporters:
My message is simple. For these skilled professionals, online infringement is wage theft. In these unique industries, many hard-working professionals depend on residuals and royalties for much of their incomes. Backend payments from repeated showings of films and televisions shows, and royalties from recordings, keep them afloat between projects. Those payments also fund health insurance and pension programs.
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He called on Congress to pass the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in the last Congress but did not come to the floor. Introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to quickly cut off Internet service of a domain name with a history of online piracy or counterfeiting.