The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property today held a hearing on the role of voluntary agreements in supporting intellectual property rights online and promoting a safe, legal, and prosperous Internet economy – and featured testimony from witnesses representing creative industries.

Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) applauded all stakeholders for ‘confronting the challenges and embracing the opportunities of the digital era.’

Jill Lesser, Executive Director for the Center for Copyright Information, testified about the Copyright Alert System – a joint educational partnership between music and entertainment companies and the major Internet Service Providers – singling it out as a model for future collaboration.

“Still in its early stages, this voluntary cooperative initiative illustrates the importance of multi-stakeholder, market-driven solutions to address the problem of digital piracy, and more generally, CCI and its members believe it can be a model for addressing challenging technology policy issues through collaboration,” Lesser said.

Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry of America, cited past collaboration between leading commercial copyright owners and user-generated content (UCG) services to address copyright issues online through voluntary initiatives. “They should serve as a blueprint for new voluntary agreements between content owners and Internet intermediaries to carry out the intent of the DMCA to protect both copyright owners and intermediaries,” Sherman said in his prepared testimony.

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) said that voluntary agreements are succeeding, but wondered if they would work better if all of the Internet’s key players became involved.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Mr. Watt encouraged all parties to work together and do more “so we don’t have to keep having hearing after hearing.”

Earlier today, at an event to unveil a new MPAA-sponsored study on the role of search engines in facilitating digital piracy, Reps. Howard Coble (R-NC), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Rep. Chu asserted that all legitimate businesses operating in the digital environment have a stake in combatting the problem. The LA Times reported:

“For years, I have been making the case that responsible players in the Internet ecosystem – from payment processors to advertisers to ISPs – have a responsibility and a self-interest to take voluntary, good-faith steps against rampant online piracy,” Schiff said.  “This study shows that there is much more that search engines must do when it comes to pointing consumers towards legal outlets.”

Yesterday, two other lawmakers, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), expressed similar sentiments at an event on Capitol Hill covering the increasing size and scope of digital piracy.

“Copyright infringement is, as the report’s author states, ‘tenacious and persistent,’ and our efforts must be tenacious and persistent,” Hatch said, according to Variety.

“More needs to be done,” Whitehouse said. “While the financial toll may be unclear we can safely bet that it is significant,” US News reported.