United States official bats for public education on intellectual property
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
WESTERN BUREAU:The United States Embassy's Regional Intellectual Property attaché, Michael Lewis, says even with the strong efforts of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to curb intellectual property infringements, there is a need for more public education about breaches conducted via the Internet.
Lewis made his recommendations Tuesday during a media interview at the opening session of a Regional Workshop on Effective Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual property in the Caribbean.
"We also have to educate the public; public education is extremely important. Intellectual property violations, on our computers using the Internet, are now very widespread and folks don't have a good understanding of what is a violation and what is not a violation," he said.
"To go online and to download illegal music, illegal movies, software - it is a crime and it is just as much a crime as walking into a store and putting the physical article (CD or DVD) in your pocket as it is to download it on the Internet.
Added Lewis: "So this is the kind of awareness that we need to raise with the public so they are aware that their actions can have an effect on not only inventors, not only innovators, but on the local economy as a whole."
The two-day capacity-building workshop was being staged by the embassy to empower law-enforcement officials, members of the judiciary and intellectual property regulators from the English-speaking Caribbean, to better protect intellectual property rights holders, innovators and inventors from pirates and counterfeiters.
Lewis said the embassy was also assisting police forces, in the region specifically, with training such as computer forensics, which is crucial due to the widespread use of the Internet globally.
"Understanding that when somebody deletes a file on the computer, it's really not gone, it's there, is important. And law enforcement needs to have that specific kind of training to know how to properly investigate online crimes. Because while physical CD and DVDs are still an issue in many countries, the biggest problem that we see is the Internet. The Internet allows people to be anonymous; to sit in a far-flung country and violate others' intellectual property by using high-speed data connections. And it is important that we provide law-enforcement authorities with the appropriate training so they can investigate these crimes online. And I am not saying that Jamaica does not have that capacity, right now, but what I am saying is that it can always be improved."