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Intellectual Property Top Of Mind At Summit

What can the president, or the next president, and Congress do to help grow the withering economy?

Start by protecting intellectual property--like digital content--the "building blocks" of growth and progress.

That was the message from the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a daylong summit on intellectual property protection in Washington.

Thomas Donahue, who urged the president to sign the newly-passed IP rights bill, called communications one of the key areas for protection, pointing out that "computer scientists, software developers and moviemakers are turning their ideas into new and improved tools that connect, inform, and entertain..."

The administration has problems with Congress creating the IP post in the White House, however, suggesting that violates separation of powers. Although the bill was scrubbed of another provision the administration opposed--giving Justice the authority to pursue civil judgments against copyright infringers, the bill's passage is far from a slam dunk, according to Paul Sweeting of B&C sister online pub, Content Agenda.

While pushing this president to sign the bill, which would create a post at the White House to coordinate intellectual property protection efforts, he also called on the new administration to make it a priority.

"A president Obama or McCain must work with Congress to provide effective leadership in support of American innovation and make intellectual property protection and enforcement a top priority."

Both the Obama and McCain campaigns have IP statements on their Web-sites.

 The Obama campaign says both that intellectual property owners should be "fairly treated," and likens intellectual property to the "physical goods" of an earlier age, but also says that the copyright laws need to be updated to promote, among other things, "civic discourse [and] innovation."

As for protecting intellectual from pirates abroad, the campaign says that Obama and Joe Biden would work "to ensure intellectual property is protected in foreign markets."

"Intellectual property protection is increasingly an issue for U.S. innovators operating in the global economy," says McCain's Web site. "John McCain will seek international agreements and enforcement efforts that ensure fair rewards to intellectual property."