White House Summit Recognizes Importance of Ensuring a Safe and Secure Internet

February 13, 2015

Today, President Obama hosted and delivered remarks at a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity and consumer protection summit at Stanford University. This daylong gathering of industry leaders, academics, law enforcement officials, and consumer protection advocates reflects the increasingly shared sentiment among public officials, businesses, and consumers that working to defend our nation’s cyberspace is top priority.

While addressing the crowd today, President Obama stated, “It’s one of the great paradoxes of our time that the very technology that can be used to do great good can also be used to imperil us and do great harm.”

He’s right about that. The Internet is an incredible resource that continues to open doors for businesses and consumers alike. In our industry, filmmakers and distributors are using the Internet to offer consumers more options than ever before for viewing movie and TV shows. Now there are over 100 legitimate platforms for finding legal content in the U.S. alone. However, this growth of the online video marketplace and other Internet success stories are also the same reasons why working to defend our nation’s cyberspace could not be timelier. As these legitimate platforms exist, there are also a number of complex and well-organized illegitimate websites that facilitate the distribution of infringing content. These sites not only undermine the investments made to create legal digital marketplaces, but also increase consumers’ vulnerability to personal cyberattacks.

As we are becoming more digitally connected, there are also ever-more-sophisticated cyber criminals seeking to exploit this environment.  And when cyber criminals or foreign nations infiltrate networks, they steal national security information, personal information, and business information for profit or other illegal gain.

Today, President Obama specifically mentioned that the theft of intellectual property is often a motivating factor for cyber criminals. When criminals try to undermine a key driver of economic growth like our nation’s intellectual property, it impacts all of us.

In fact, a recent study shows that core copyright industries generated $1.1 trillion dollars and employed nearly 5.5 million workers in 2013. That accounts for 6.71% of the entire economy and 4% of the entire U.S. workforce.  The American motion picture industry is one of these copyright-intensive sectors, and also of our nation’s most vibrant economic sectors. The latest economic figures reveal that the film and television industry contributes $40 billion to over 330,000 businesses in a given year, along with over $16 billion in public revenues.  This picture of economic growth is built on legitimate distribution models that respect intellectual property rights. Content theft weakens this foundation; meaning less revenue, less reinvestment, and ultimately, less jobs.

Opportunities for businesses and consumers will only continue to grow in the digital space. But it’s important that we continue to engage in meaningful conversations like today at Stanford, and work together across industry lines to forge voluntary initiatives that ensure a safe and secure Internet for years to come.