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IPEC, One Year On

CoverWhat a difference a year makes.

In case you missed it, US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel has released the first annual report outlining the Obama administration’s progress in implementing its strategy on intellectual property. It is just one report, but it speaks volumes.

Remember that it was little more than a year ago that Espinel became the first person confirmed by the US Senate to hold her post. Six months after that, she and Vice President Joe Biden unveiled the country’s first — in our view, historicJoint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement.

That blueprint marked a new phase for intellectual property protection in the United States. It marshaled the collective knowledge and expertise of all federal agencies charged with enforcing IP rights and committed them to common goals so that government can more efficiently and effectively combat domestic and international infringement of copyrighted products. Especially noteworthy for the software industry was a federal commitment to lead by example on legal software use. The strategy called for a review of administration policies and practices to ensure that government is doing everything possible to promote legal software use — not just by federal agencies, but also by their contractors.

Now, barely six more months on, Espinel is able to report significant progress. She and her team have been working with agencies to review policies covering software use by government contractors and ensure that “any software they use in performance of a contract with a federal agency is properly acquired and used.” Espinel expects that review to be completed soon.

Along the way, she notes in her annual report, “we decided it would be valuable to remind agency Information Technology (IT) and procurement officials of the Administration’s policy of making IT procurement decisions in a technology neutral way.” That reminder came in early January in the form of a directive from the Office of Management and Budget. As we noted here on BSA TechPost, it demonstrated tremendous leadership, not just in the United States but globally, at a time when a number of governments in Europe and Asia have been inching toward preferences for open-source technologies or for technologies that are free of intellectual property rights.

Beyond the provisions of direct interest to the software industry, the really striking thing about the first annual report on the progress of IP enforcement is the degree to which it represents an overall commitment on the part of the Obama administration to drive innovation policy. Reading the new report alongside the president’s recently released Strategy for American Innovation, it is abundantly clear that the White House places IP protection at the core of its innovation agenda — because, in Lincoln’s words, effective intellectual property rights spur technological progress and economic growth by adding “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

Espinel and her colleagues in the White House have brought energy and focus to their task, and we should all be grateful. The software industry certainly is.

Robert Holleyman

Author:

As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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