Threat of Eminent Domain Abuse Prompts Calling for Supreme Court Decision
Thursday, May 20, 2010 10:31 am | By Robert Kramer

A recent case of eminent domain abuse has been brought to the nation's attention this week, when the Institute for Justice commented on the City of Milwaukee’s attempt to repossess a plot of land from the local Veterans of Foreign War post without paying just compensation. A ruling issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared that the VFW stood to receive no compensation for the lease it has held since 1961.  The case is calling into question the responsibility of the government in its use of eminent domain; should it make payments equal to the value of the land itself, or equal to the value of all assets lost?  As Dana Berliner of IJ stated “It is completely impossible that just compensation for a 50-year or 60-year lease is zero.”

This abuse of eminent domain shines some light on an issue that has been consistently afflicting our nation in recent years.  Economic development is dependent on well-defined and secure private property rights.  When people are uncertain that they can safely occupy their home or run their business without fear of losing it to the government for an ambiguously defined "public" use, production stagnates as incentives to put more money into an establishment are lost.

The Institute for Justice and National Association of Home Builders want to bring the case before the Supreme Court.  If it agrees to hear the case, we can only hope that a ruling is given in favor of private establishments across the country, one where owners of repossessed land are given a just compensation for their lost assets, free from fear of being further abused by the government.

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Victory! Limewire No Longer Allowed to Profit from Theft
Thursday, May 13, 2010 1:11 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This week, the District Court of Manhattan has handed a deserved victory to recording artists when Judge Kimba M. Wood found Limewire can be held liable for copyright infringement. This decision continues the strong precedent in favor of protecting intellectual property rights set by the Supreme Court nearly five years ago in the MGM Studios v. Grokster decision, which ruled that software developers can be held liable when their products foster the infringement of copyrighted movies and music. In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled against companies such as Grokster which base their business on the theft of intellectual property rights.

These cases, which seek to stop the illegal downloading of copyrighted material by holding accountable the peer-to-peer (P2P) companies which provide it, are instrumental in laying the foundation for intellectual property rights protection. Yesterday’s ruling is a victory not just for the entertainment industry, but ultimately for legitimate free markets and the American consumer.

This ruling will assist in greatly discouraging the illegal activities that have been taking place for too long and sends a strong signal that intellectual property rights violations will not be tolerated.

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Three Cheers for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland!
Friday, April 30, 2010 2:08 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) praises the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for continuing their efforts to protect intellectual property around the world by releasing its annual Special 301 report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

Strong intellectual property enforcement is key to long-term economic growth and prosperity. Intellectual property rights can boost trade and foreign investment dramatically, but first, global piracy and counterfeiting must be stopped or significantly reduced for the economies of developed and developing nations to thrive. In the U.S. alone intellectual property is valued at $5.5 trillion and accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, driving 40 percent of this country’s economic growth.

As Ambassador Kirk put it in USTR’s press release:

“Intellectual property theft in overseas markets is an export killer for American businesses and a job killer for American workers here at home. USTR’s Special 301 report is important because it serves as the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms that bolsters our exports and supports American jobs in IPR-intensive industries.”

The press release praised the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary for cracking down on rampant counterfeiting and piracy and as a result those countries were removed from the Watch List. The report also continues to outline concerns regarding China for its “implementation of ‘indigenous innovation’ policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. IPR holders.”

Counterfeiting and piracy is a global problem that negatively impacts all sectors of the global economy from pharmaceuticals to software. As highlighted in the 2010 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), people in countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to eight times greater than those without legal protection. Countries that protect property rights provide an essential foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, the Index shows: its calculations cover 125 countries, representing 97 per cent of the world’s GDP.

With the release of this report, the United States continues to send a clear message to our trading partners that we are serious about protecting our creators and innovators and at the same time promoting prosperity around the world.

It is our hope that U.S. will continue along this course with the completion and implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This pact will expand upon cooperation that has developed regionally and bilaterally within the past few years and set a new framework for international norms for stronger IP enforcement.

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