Jaci McDole Jaci McDole
Senior Director, Copyright and Creativity, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 24, 2024


Digital piracy is a critical issue that must be addressed as part of comprehensive intellectual property (IP) enforcement strategies. Thankfully, policymakers are paying attention and taking steps to tackle this problem. On May 7, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing focused on the challenges American rightsholders face in protecting their IP. The Chamber used this hearing as an opportunity to highlight the impact of digital piracy on American businesses and consumers.

Why Policymakers Should Care

According to a 2019 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office report, Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Third Edition, U.S. IP-intensive industries directly support over 47 million jobs and indirectly support an additional 15.5 million jobs. Copyright-intensive industries alone account for approximately $1.3 trillion in gross domestic product. These numbers clearly indicate that IP-intensive industries are crucial for America’s economic security and global innovation leadership.

IP enforcement challenges, such as digital piracy, directly threaten America’s economy, impacting businesses across all sectors and sizes. Digital piracy costs American businesses almost $77 billion annually, with 80% of piracy linked to illegal streaming.

Real-World Harms for Consumers

Many malicious criminals run websites closely resembling legitimate ones, defrauding customers and harming legitimate businesses. These criminals often operate multi-billion-dollar enterprises that harm consumers, undermine trust, and fund illicit activities like weapons, drugs, wildlife, and human trafficking. Furthermore, these criminals steal from creators and innovators, profiting from stolen property, ad revenue, and fraudulent scams to fund their illicit activities at consumers’ expense.

The Bottom Line

The Chamber’s 2019 report Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy demonstrated the significant harm of IP theft on the American economy and remains the nation’s marquee source for information on digital piracy. Given how influential this report is for policymakers and thought leaders, the Chamber has decided to update it to better reflect the current harms of IP theft.

But fighting piracy isn’t just about shutting down illicit websites and demonstrating economic harm. A comprehensive government approach to IP enforcement involves effective policy, strategic resourcing, and robust operational partnerships with stakeholders. The Chamber is eager to present policymakers with the latest facts and stands ready to work with private businesses and policymakers to craft practical solutions to combat commercial piracy and safeguard free enterprise.

About the authors

Jaci McDole

Jaci McDole

Jaci McDole is Senior Director of Copyright and Creativity for the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.