Media bosses unite to tackle piracy

Leading figures from across Britain’s biggest media companies have banded together to advise Lord Carter on how to tackle online piracy before his Digital Britain report is released on June 16th.

The “copyright squad”, including Neil Berkett of Virgin Media and Michael Lynton of Sony Pictures, are urging Carter to include draft legislation that will compel ISPs to collect data on repeat offenders that can be used to prosecute them if other action fails. They want it to be handled by an enforcement body, owned by the industry but overseen by the media regulator Ofcom, to crack down on illegal peer-to-peer file sharing that costs the film, television and music industries an estimated total of £500 million (E556m) a year in lost revenues.

The body would be responsible for writing letters threatening consumers with disconnection, education campaigns and potential prosecutions, in effect outsourcing that job so that companies don’t have to police their own customers.

Richard Scudamore of the Premier League, Channel 4’s Andy Duncan, Jeremy Darroch from Sky and Lucian Grainge of Universal Music are also part of the six man squad.

Media bosses are frustrated at the lack of progress, saying uncertainty over legislation has delayed signing rights deals. They have rejected setting up a digital-rights agency, fearing it would interfere with commercial arrangements.

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