updated 04:54 pm EDT, Mon May 27, 2013
US Government-sponsored report claims China biggest offender
The US Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has released a report, calling for the use of malware and root kits to enforce US corporate-owned copyrights and media. As proposed, the report calls for the infringing file to be "rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user's computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account."
The commission includes former director of National Intelligence and US Pacific Command Commander in Chief Dennis C Blair, former Ambassador to China Jon M. Huntsman Jr., former chairman of Intel Craig R. Barrett, ex-Washington state senator Slade Gorton, former Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, among others.
As intended, the Commission's goals in writing the report was to "document and assess the causes, scale, and other major dimensions of international intellectual property theft as they affect the United States, document and assess the role of China in international intellectual property theft, and propose appropriate U.S. policy responses that would mitigate ongoing and future damage and obtain greater enforcement of intellectual property rights by China and other infringers."
The report claims that the scale of the theft amounts to over $300 billion annually, but does confess that true amount is impossible to quantify. The Commission agrees with the US Cyber Command commander General Keith Alexander, calling the ongoing theft of intellectual property "the greatest transfer of wealth in history."
While the draconian measures suggested to stop infringers are universal, and not specifically aimed at one country, China is considered to be "between 50 percent and 80 percent of the problem," calling the country's growth strategy the acquisition of science and technology "in part by legal means -- imports, foreign domestic investment, licensing, and joint ventures -- but also by means that are illegal."
The report addressing trademark violations in China recalls a well-publicized incident in Kunming China, where an Apple store had opened: "The new store came complete with the large distinct wooden tables, sleek interior design, large colorful advertisements, and helpful staff members wearing the blue shirts donned by Apple store employees worldwide. Everything was seemingly in place, except for one major problem -- this was not actually an Apple store. The store in Kunming had appropriated Apple's trademarks and trade dress -- even convincing its own employees that they were working for Apple itself -- in order to sell Apple products and provide Apple-branded services, all without the company's permission."
While claiming difficulty in doing so, the report does address direct losses to the US entertainment industry. It claims that music piracy causes a loss of $12.5 billion annually, with movie piracy running $20.5 billion.
The report is calling for the White House to take action by establishing the secretary of commerce as the federal authority to draft laws and legislation involved the "protection of intellectual property, enforcement of implementation actions, and policy development." According to the report, the US International Trade Commission will need to be more nimble, and react faster to complaints than the current two to three years to complaint completion.
Perhaps most concerning, the commission is aware that US law would have to be dramatically revised. It calls for a "more permissive environment for active network defense that allows companies not only to stabilize a situation but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder's networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system's camera, implanting malware in the hacker's network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker's own computer or network."