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The U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, presided over what has become an annual IPR Roundtable on April 24, 2015 in Beijing. I had the honor to represent SIIA on a panel entitled: “The Importance of Copyright to Tomorrow’s Creators.”   Noting 2012 and 2013 groundbreaking reports from the United States and the European Union on the overall contribution that IP-intensive industries make to the economy – “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus” and “IPR Intensive Industries: Contribution to Economic Performance and Employment in Europe” – I focused on the software sector and drew from Robert Shapiro’s 2014 report: “The U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment” in highlighting the fact that in 2012 software accounted for 2.6% of U.S. GDP, was responsible for 12.2% of fixed business investment, and contributed 15.6% to total labor factor productivity.   I explained why copyright is so important to this sector, as well as explained the importance of licensing and contractual freedom in providing the framework allowing companies to experiment in delivering software. This was a major theme in SIIA’s January 17, 2014 comments on the U.S. Green Paper: “Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Digital Economy.”

Panelists included representatives from MainMedia (a major Chinese media company), Outdustry Group (a music rights company), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the Anjie Law Firm, the Software Alliance (BSA), Renmin University, Tencent, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) of China, QBPC, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), China Network Television (CCTV), iQiYi Motion Pictures and Sony Music China. Tencent’s Director of Technology Transactions (Li Chia-chi) provided a very interesting talk about how it is experimenting with different business models – especially micropayments – to monetize its game offerings, particularly the very popular “League of Legends.” If there was any one theme of the Roundtable it was that while much remains to be done in China, progress, albeit slow, is being made. For example, Ed Peto from Outdustry Group mentioned that while legal music sales are still miniscule in China, music rightsholders now have – as a direct result of Chinese copyright reforms – a “portfolio” of different revenue sources.  John Medeiros, emphasized, however, that “black boxes,” allowing consumers to access content from broadcasters without paying the rightsholders is a growing phenomenon. In his view, governments need to deal with this fundamentally international problem.

The U.S. Government’s Intellectual Property Rights Attache in Beijing, Joel Blank, concluded by saying that progress is being made on copyright matters in China, both Chinese and American businesses have an interest in combatting piracy, and that the U.S. and Chinese governments (and industries) need to continue to work together to ensure respect for Copyright. SIIA agrees that this view has substantive merit and intends to continue to support the U.S. Ambassador’s Roundtable in China, as well as continue to work in China as one of the parent trade associations of the United States Information Technology Office (USITO), which is located in Beijing, China.

Carl Carl Schonander is Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy.