Ambassador Wayne’s Remarks at World Intellectual Property Day 2015 – “Get Up, Stand Up, For Music”

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the celebration of World Intellectual Property Day.  Before I go any further, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the co-organizers of today’s event:

  • Maestro Armando Manzanero, Honorary President of the Coalition for Legal Access to Culture;
  • Motion Picture Association;
  • Association for the Protection of Movies and Music;
  • Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico;
  • Mexican Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property;
  • American Chamber of Commerce.

Every year in April, World Intellectual Property Day thrusts intellectual property issues to the forefront in order to promote discussion on the role that intellectual property plays in encouraging innovation and creativity.  This year’s theme, “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music” has particular significance for me because I am a huge music fan and have my iPod loaded up with my favorite artists including Santana, Queen, the Rolling Stones, Nickelback, Coldplay, Katy Perry, One Republic, Pitbull, and others.

Music has the power to bring together all races, religions, and social classes behind the rhythms and lyrics that we can’t seem to get enough of.  The great Dick Clark coined the phrase, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.”  This statement couldn’t be truer as each and every one of us can remember the music that is associated with milestone events in our lives like a first kiss, quinceanera, graduation, wedding, or the birth of a child.  Music has also served as a strong voice for the underserved communities that may be otherwise politically, socially or economically marginalized.  This year’s World IP Day theme borrows from the lyrics of one of the true revolutionary figures in music, Robert “Bob” Nestor Marley.  Mr. Marley’s music advocated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance!  Mr. Marley’s legacy stands as an example of how music can deliver powerful uplifting messages that can be relevant for generations.  Mr. Marley has legions of fans across the globe including President Obama, who visited Mr. Marley’s museum on his trip to Kingston, Jamaica two weeks ago.

Mr. Marley is also a commercial juggernaut who has sold over 75 million albums and was ranked 5th on the 2014 Forbes list of “Top Earning Dead Celebrities” with $2 million in earnings.  This would not be possible without strong intellectual property laws that allow artists and innovators to share their works with the world in exchange for reasonable remuneration.  Every year on World IP Day we take a moment to draw special attention to the historical significance and continuing importance of intellectual property. It is essential to the health of the global economy. We embrace the opportunity to increase the public’s understanding of the value of intellectual property. We also emphasize how strong intellectual property systems foster creativity and advancement in the arts and sciences. Intellectual property rights are a global currency that creates value for products and services, benefiting innovators in all markets.  For example, in the United States, core copyright industries:

  • added over $1 trillion in value to the U.S. economy in a single year, accounting for almost 6.5% of the total U.S. GDP;
  • employed nearly 5.4 million U.S. workers with good paying jobs that average 33% higher wages than the rest of the workforce;
  • accounted for $142 billion in foreign sales and exports, far more than sectors such as aerospace, agriculture, food, and pharmaceuticals.

The protection that intellectual property laws provide will help future innovators write the next chapter of global technological advancement.   In the music industry, innovative technologies have changed the way that we consume music.  During the age of vinyl, my record collection lined the walls of a sizable room.  With the advent of digital music, tens of thousands of songs can be stored on a device that is about the size of a deck of cards.  Innovators continue to improve the way music is delivered to consumers.  Subscription services such as Spotify are now at the heart of the music industry’s portfolio of businesses, representing 23% of the digital market and generating $1.6 billion in trade revenues. The industry sees substantial further growth potential in the subscription sector, with new services advancing in 2015 led by three major global players: YouTube’s Music Key, Jay Z’s TIDAL and Apple’s expected subscription service.  However, environments where protection and enforcement of intellectual property is weak can lead to unpredictability and stunt the vibrant economic growth of these innovative services.

The Internet poses particular challenges for right holders seeking to protect their intellectual property and government authorities whose responsibility it is to enforce intellectual property rights.   In particular to the music industry, the paradigm has shifted – counterfeiters and pirates no longer rely exclusively on physical goods like CDs and DVDs as their main source of income.  Now, these criminals rely on vast multi-national networks that incorporate the latest technology such as file-sharing, the cloud, peer-to-peer networks and illegal streaming sites to steal from innovators and creators.  The same legitimate music delivery technologies that have been applauded by consumers can be exploited by criminals at the expense of the artists.  For example, a pirate can load the entire digital quality music catalog of “Juan Gabriel”  “Luis Miguel” or “Maná” and sell it on the street for a fraction of the cost.  It is essential that governments enact sound policies to deal with this new paradigm.

Music is indeed the soundtrack of our lives. The artists, musicians, producers, engineers, A&R staff, “roadies,” street teams and the endless staff that help turn an idea into gold and platinum albums – each contributes their spark of creativity and innovative genius to the soundtrack.  That is why today we should continuously celebrate music and the foundation of music – intellectual property.

Happy IP Day everyone!