WEB EXTRA: Law School research center studies ‘Bollywood’

The Law School’s Creative and Innovative Economy Center is located in Foggy Bottom, but its projects can be found around the globe.

This month the center released a report on piracy of “Bollywood” movies – a name for the Indian film industry – and increasing the availability of medicine in order to solve the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. In May, the group will be hosting events in Brazil and Colombia on their economies and bio-medical fields.

This center, an initiative unique to GW, was established in January 2006 and works with developing countries, diplomats and industry leaders. Some outside of GW researches have questioned the motivations of CIEC, claiming it is a lobbying group, but organizers said the group is research and education oriented.

The center’s work in Latin America, Asia and Africa strive to outline and implement plans of action for solving health, bio-medical, cultural, media, judiciary and intellectual property problems.

“On Capitol Hill and throughout the international community the CIEC helps convey that we are recognized as being at the forefront of new technologies, research and development ideas to assist nations achieve potential,” said Thomas Morrison, senior associate dean for Administrative Affairs at the law school.

CIEC Director Michael Ryan is a political economist who has been studying intellectual property for 10 years.

“I am unaware of any other university conducting research with this focus of creativity in developing countries. Not many think-tanks or NGOs are even concerned with this matter,” Ryan said.

He added that GW’s Law School was a perfect fit for CIEC in part because of its nationally top-ranked Intellectual Property program.

CIEC targets 10 to 12 countries, especially India, China and Brazil. Looking towards the future, Ryan wants to continue establishing progress toward positive development in these focus areas, rather than increase the number of countries researched.

Bertrand Moullier, author of the Bollywood report “Whither Bollywood? IP rights, Innovation, and Economic Growth in India’s Film Industries” and former director of the International Federation of Film Producers, presented his findings at last week’s World Intellectual Property Organization’s Development Agenda meetings in Geneva, Switzerland.

As part of a United Nations’ program, the meetings convene two to three times a year with delegates arriving from across the globe to discuss country-specific intellectual property issues.

Mouiller’s report highlights the aspects of the Indian movie industry that promote expansion. He identified the growth in multi-screen theatres, digital satellite delivery systems and DVD player sales for middle-class consumers. The report also discussed the frustration directors and producers feel about the lack of compensation.

“Movies get pirated, and the industry can not finance films. We are working with India to find ways to protect people who create films,” said Frank Pietrucha, CIEC Communication Director.

Some other IP research organization members outside of GW have accused CIEC of having close ties to large companies and pushing their agenda. CIEC members have denied this claim.

“I think the CIEC is mainly seen as a lobbying group,” wrote James Packard Love in an e-mail. Love is the director of Knowledge Ecology International, an organization that publishes research on IP. “Most of the events they organize are designed to achieve particular lobbying objectives by these right-owner interests. I don’t know that Universities should be acting as agents to advance corporate lobbying objectives, but that seems to be the main point of CIEC.”

Robert Brauneis is an associate professor of Law at GW and is a member of Managing Board of CIEC, he said the group is purely research and education-oriented.

“Accusations that CIEC is a lobbying firm are not true,” Braunesi said. “Rather than looking at the scholarly research for what is right and wrong, they are dismissing it from the start . The groups that have contributed do not line edit the studies, and at the once a year meetings when they all get together they do not discuss the details of individual studies.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.