The Amerigo Association workshop “Keep it Real” held in Florence on October 25, 2013 – by Sarah Craddock Morrison

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Sarah Craddock Morrison - U.S. Consul General in Florence
Sarah Craddock Morrison U.S. Consul General in Florence

The experts here today will provide the exact figures, but according to a 2011 study by CENSIS (one of the most prestigious national research institutes in social sciences and economics in Italy) and the Ministry of Economic Development, the infringement of intellectual property rights costs legal Italian and foreign-owned companies in Italy alone nearly € 7 billion, a loss of 110,000 jobs subtracted from the economy, and an enormous loss of tax revenues. There is no question that we must act forcefully to curb the phenomenon and we must do so now. Despite the existence of adequate legislation, there is still much progress to be made in order to thwart this phenomenon. We are concerned that the theft of intellectual property is often considered a minor violation in Italy, and perhaps even a social safety net.

Amerigo - International Cultural Exchanges Programs Alumni Association

The Amerigo Association workshop Keep it Real held in Florence on October 25, 2013. This is wrong for two significant reasons: the first is that there is proof that today counterfeiting is largely in the hands of organized crime because it provides profits equal, and perhaps superior, to those attained from activities like drug dealing – but with far less risk. Furthermore, counterfeiting produces many negative socio-economic effects, including illegal immigration, tax evasion, illegal labor, and the consequent loss of [legitimate] jobs. The violation of copyrights online deserves a specific mention, as it is a huge problem with global dimensions. We are confident that in the near future Italy’s AGCOM will adopt the regulations expected for so long by copyright holders, which are necessary to combat online piracy effectively.

The second reason that it is wrong to consider intellectual property theft a minor violation has to do with the credibility of the Italian economic system. A politically and economically strong Italy is in the interest of the whole western world, and especially to the United States, because it means that Italy can continue to be an important leader in the international arena and that it can continue to contribute to our common goal of promoting prosperity around the world. It is therefore very disturbing to see that this year, according to the International Property Rights Index, Italy is 47th on the list that measures the level of protection of intellectual property in 131 countries which represent more than 98% of the world’s GDP.

Currently, Italy is only the fifteenth largest trading partner of the United States, with bilateral trade amounting to about $ 55 billion in 2012, and it is bringing up the rear in the European Union with regard to the ability to attract foreign investment – a factor that has been particularly negative recently. It reduces Italy’s chances of returning to robust economic growth next year, at the predicted conclusion of this period of economic crisis. One of the reasons for this, although certainly not the only one, is the lack of confidence in a system that does not protect intellectual property as it should; something that is vitally crucial in the modern era. People with any kind of vision cannot fail to understand that the lack of adequate protection for intellectual property rights is a disincentive for those who would like to invest and do business in Italy. What credibility can a country have that does not protect its own intellectual property, not to mention that of others? From our point of view, the potential for growth in Italy is very high, and more effective enforcement of the laws against counterfeiting would make a powerful contribution. This problem is global and is often based on those same global technologies that facilitate legitimate trade and boost economic and social development. Therefore, while it is fair to demand that those countries which produce most of the counterfeit products being sold today assume highest responsibility, we ourselves have to take more decisive action to discourage counterfeiting in our own countries, including the consumption of these products.

Getting results requires the cooperation of everyone, from local governments and trade organizations to industry and to workers; everyone must be made aware of the true social costs of this criminal activity in order to reduce the tacit consent and approval it can still rely on in public opinion.

I would like to conclude by thanking the Association Amerigo for the role it plays The Robert Giorgio Vasari at Galleria Palatina in Palazzo Pitti 26 November 2013 – 5 January 2014 The Galleria Palatina is organising an exhibition on one of the most significant paintings in the Medici collections, the Allegory of Patience, which belonged to cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici and is today held in the Sala di Prometeo in Palazzo Pitti. Initially attributed to Parmigianino in the inventories of Palazzo Pitti, catalogued in the museum’s first guides under the name of Francesco Salviati, and later attributed to Girolamo Siciolante by Federico Zeri, the painting is today recognised as fruit of the collaboration between Giorgio Vasari and Spanish artist Gaspar Becerra. Shortly after 1550, Cosimo I requested Vasari to execute a painting that in a new and emblematic manner would represent the principal By Sarah Craddock Morrison U.S. Consul General in Florence in promoting useful and interesting initiatives, and the Tuscany Region for its support of innovative entrepreneurship and for its hospitality today.

Many thanks to my fellow citizen, lawyer Angelo Mazza, who demonstrated his great commitment to the fight against counterfeiting, and his friendship with Italy, by being here with us today. I especially wish to thank the Guardia di Finanza here in Tuscany for their exceptional work in combating this very serious crime.

I hope that from the various reports to be presented here and during the final debate, new ideas will emerge on how all the stakeholders in this issue – local governments, the judiciary, and business associations – can work with the Guardia of Finance and the State Police in the prevention and reduction of this phenomenon.

Sarah Craddock Morrison
U.S. Consul General in Florence

 

U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL
Lungarno Vespucci 38
50123 Florence, Italy
Tel. (+39) 055 266951
Fax (+39) 055 284088

United States of America Consulate

 

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