Unions and publishers unite to combat piracy

Unions on both sides of the Atlantic are joining forces with media companies to lobby for tougher action against piracy, as rising unemployment levels focus their attention on the threat to members' jobs and incomes from copyright breaches.

Representatives from media unions, including the the Federation of Entertainment Unions and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu), joined rights owners at a London conference this month to co-ordinate their approach to the government's Digital Britain report on the future of the UK's creative industries.

The meeting, billed as an unprecedented alliance, came as US labour groups are pushing to secure Congressional funding for intellectual property legislation passed in the Bush administration's final months, adding weight to media companies' anti-piracy efforts.

"It has become crystal clear that the issue of fighting piracy and counterfeiting is a jobs issue and is about the economy," said Rick Cotton, general counsel of NBC Universal. The co-ordination with unions has been "a tremendous multiplier" of media companies' lobbying efforts, he said.

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