Recognizing the Value of Women’s Intellectual Property Rights on World IP Day | Citizens Against Government Waste

Recognizing the Value of Women’s Intellectual Property Rights on World IP Day

The WasteWatcher

Eighteen years ago, April 26 was designated as World Intellectual Property (IP) Day.  Each year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) celebrates the achievements of innovators and creators around the world.   This year’s celebration is entitled:  Powering change:  Women in innovation and creativity.

The creative influence of women around the globe is of critical importance to innovation.  Perhaps one of the best-known female songwriters is Dolly Parton, who wrote the music for the Broadway musical 9 to 5, as well as the song “I Will Always Love You,” which debuted in the film Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and was later sung by Whitney Houston in the film The Bodyguard.    A 2001 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Diane Warren, has written over 80 songs that have made the top ten rankings on the pop music charts.  Among her musical contributions are the lyrics for the song “Solitaire,” recorded by Laura Branigan in 1983, and “Rhythm of the Night,” for DeBarge, which reached number three on the pop music charts.  

Having the ability to protect intellectual property from theft by the founders of our nation who included in the General Welfare Clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

On April 25, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives took a step towards strengthening intellectual property rights by passing H.R. 4706, the Music Modernization Act of 2017.  This legislation restructures the way in which songwriters, producers, and recording artists are compensated for their work.  The bill mandates a new collection mechanism for mechanical royalties and offers streaming music services protection from copyright infringement lawsuits; it also incorporates language from H.R. 3301, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS Act), which would provide federal copyright protection for digital audio transmission of sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972; and, H.R. 881, the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP Act), which allows for music producers to also receive compensation for their work in the creative process.

Dolly Parton and Diane Warren are just two of the many women who have made great strides in the arts, industry, medicine, and technology.  Other female innovators include Mary Dixon Kies, who was the first woman to file for an American patent in 1809 for a process she developed to weave straw with silk or thread; Mary Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama who was granted patent no. 743,801 on November 10, 1903 for a window-cleaning device for street cars, now commonly recognized as windshield wipers; and screen actress, Hedy Lamarr, who along with composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance systems for Allied torpedoes at the beginning of World War II.  The protection of IP is critical, not just to those who write and perform music, but to everyone engaged in industries that are reliant on IP.  In 2014, Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz and I co-authored a book entitled, “Intellectual Property: Making It Personal.”  In our book we detailed the saga that many creators and inventors encounter in combatting IP theft daily, whether through piracy, counterfeiting, or trade secret theft. 

As noted in the Global Innovation Policy Center’s 2018 IP Index, while improvements to IP protection have been made, efforts to protect and enforce IP rights is critical to empowering future innovation and economic growth.  Celebrating the creative and innovative forces behind World IP Day is important, but so is safeguarding the creators, inventors, and innovators who make the world a better place by providing strong IP protections.