Mei-lan Stark Mei-lan Stark Executive Vice President and Chief Counsel, Intellectual Property, NBC Universal, Chair, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center

Published

April 25, 2022

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If you’re a creator, artist, or inventor, you’re an intellectual property owner. Whether you’re a 17-year-old singer aspiring to go viral, a twenty-something programmer designing the next hit video game, or a pandemic poet sharing your words with friends online, your works are protected by copyright. It doesn’t matter whether they’re published. It doesn’t matter if they’re finished works. Intellectual property laws ensure you own your creations and determine where they go next. 

This year, on World IP Day, we’re celebrating “Intellectual Property and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future.” There are countless ways intellectual property rights – and copyright specifically – can encourage young people to express their creativity for everyone’s benefit.

1. Control your creative content

Copyright safeguards the expression of ideas and enables creators to leverage their value in the marketplace. In other words, copyright grants creators control over their creations. Will you use your copyrighted work to fundraise or earn your livelihood? Will you use your copyrighted work to hire people and expand your business? Will you use your copyrighted work to educate and inspire others to build on your creativity? The power and potential are in your hands with copyright protection.

2. Connect with the community

Across a wide range of industries, including film, television, music, publishing, and video games, copyright connects you with like-minded people in a community that recognizes and respects creativity, nurtures creative talent, and serves as a pathway to fulfilling individual and collective creative potential. By clearly defining ownership rights to creative works, copyright promotes the knowledge-sharing and collaboration necessary to sustain creativity, and supports access to creative works around the world. According to the U.S. Chamber International IP Index, economies with stronger copyright protections enjoy greater access to the newest music, movies, and books.

3. Combat illegal piracy

The digital revolution has made it easier for you to reach the world with your creativity than at any other time in history. Unfortunately, the “flip side” is that illegal copying, and unauthorized distribution of creative works is more prevalent, with bad actors pirating stolen copyrighted works for their illicit gain. According to the U.S. Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center, approximately 26.6 billion viewings of U.S.-produced movies and 126.7 billion viewings of U.S.-produced TV episodes are pirated each year. Consumers of these pirated streams unwittingly rob creators of their well-deserved recognition and compensation. Overall, digital video piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue every year and between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs. Copyright enforcement is our best tool to fight back against piracy and its burden on us all.

4. Create economic growth

Even in the face of piracy and other forms of copyright infringement, copyright owners generate a tremendous economic impact. According to the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2020, copyright-intensive arts and culture industries added $876.7 billion - or 4.2 percent - to the national GDP, even as arts and cultural production fell by 6.4% due to pandemic challenges. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, intellectual property, including copyright, supports more than 47 million American jobs.

5. Cultivate creativity

With the power of copyright, people of all ages are stepping up to solve the world’s most pressing problems and foster a healthy culture by channeling their energy, ingenuity, and creativity into changing the world. A robust intellectual property system has the tools to help you invest in yourself and your talents and make your ideas a reality. Further, an intellectual property-forward legal and policy environment can ensure that the fruits of your labor will be available and adaptable to build a better future.  

Let World IP Day be a reminder for all the artists, designers, programmers, innovators, and changemakers of the world to enlist the power of copyright to benefit and protect the fruits of your creativity.

About the authors

Mei-lan Stark

Mei-lan Stark

Executive Vice President and Chief Counsel, Intellectual Property, NBC Universal, Chair, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center