Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has praised the efforts of the UK in its work on strengthening copyright protection while expressing his hope that governments around the globe will respond positively to the ongoing representations being raised by the creative industries on the matter.
Dodd made his comments at the 2014 International IP Enforcement Summit in London organised by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, and the European Commission.
Dodd told delegates that the summit was paying tribute to copyright’s importance in the success of the creative industries in the UK. “By engaging interested parties from all sides of the IP enforcement debate, in a thoughtful and constructive discussion, we have an opportunity to encourage meaningful changes, and to ensure the continued success of this important sector for years to come,” he declared.
He said that only through cooperation and open dialogue could the industry begin developing practical, sustainable solutions to the problem of IP infringement – solutions that benefit creators and consumers alike.
According to Dodd, in the UK, the balanced and proportionate use of civil procedures had made “tremendous” progress in tackling infringing websites. “To date, access to over 40 pirate sites focused on infringing copyright for commercial gain, have been blocked. In particular, Section 97A of the Copyright Act allowing courts to issue injunctions against service providers who know their services are being utilised for infringing purposes, has been one of the most effective tools anywhere in the world,” he stated. “Not only does it take action, but Section 97A sends a clear message to others operating infringing websites – and it is an approach supported throughout the creative industry.”
He drew attention to a recent report by Mike Weatherly MP – the IP Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron – which demonstrated the significant role search engines play in guiding users to sites with illegal content. “The report acknowledged that Google, as the major player in the UK search market, must take the lead in setting responsible industry standards on this issue. It also contained some excellent recommendations, including that search engines should remove sites from their search listings that are subject to 97a injunctions. If we convince these search engines to join our efforts to shut down illegal sites, it would be a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to protect creators,” he suggested, admitting however, that it was important to note that the industry’s focus was broader than merely taking down infringing websites.
“We know that we, the content producing industries, must provide consumers with legal access to more content. And every day, the movie and TV industries are working hard to develop innovative and consumer-friendly platforms to deliver the content audiences want to see – while also ensuring that those who have laboured to make that content, are compensated. As a result we have seen a global explosion in legal online services,” he advised.
“Across the planet today, more than 400 of these services for watching many of the world’s best films and television shows exist – with more distribution services being created every day.
What we need now is to help consumers find them. That’s why easy to use directories such as thecontentmap.com and findanyfilm.com have been created here in the UK,” he noted.
“As the creators of movies and television programmes loved by audiences everywhere, the global film and TV industry relies on intellectual property – especially copyright – to bring these stories to life in an ever-growing variety of ways. I cannot stress enough the importance of educating young people everywhere about the significant time and effort that goes into the creation of these television and cinematic wonders,” he said.
“We need to educate people everywhere that the movie and television industry is more than big stars and red carpets. It is the hundreds of people it takes to make a TV show or single film – carpenters, sound and lighting engineers, costume designers, truck drivers, electricians and so many others. So when you steal a movie or TV show by whatever means, it is those hard working men and women who are the real victims,” he declared.
He suggested that as important as educating the public is, however, strong copyright protections were needed to be in place for that education to be truly effective. “As you are no doubt aware, ‘copyright reviews’ are occurring around the world today – in the United States, Brazil, Australia, Brussels, and yes, here in the United Kingdom as well.
According to Dodd, for far too many, unfortunately, such ‘reviews’ are seen as an opportunity to weaken the copyright and intellectual property protections that have been the cornerstones, of not only the global film industry, but of creative and innovative industries everywhere.
“The evidence being advocated by those seeking sweeping reforms of copyright law, is lacking, to say the least, and based on very misleading assertions. And I fear that those behind these efforts do not seem to care whether the producers, directors, and hundreds of cast and crew members that I represent who make these films, are compensated for their creative efforts,” he admitted.
“For generations, existing copyright protections have fostered surges of creativity, innovative business models, and historically unparalleled offerings of films, television programmes, and other forms of entertainment enjoyed by the citizens of the UK and Europe. And they must continue to be protected,” he stated.
“Copyright remains the most effective enabler for the creation, financing, production and dissemination of cultural works. Those of us working in the creative economy – creators, lovers of culture, creative and media businesses, and yes, governments – must share a responsibility to identify the dangers of weakened copyright,” he asserted.
“Copyright’s role is not restricted to providing an incentive for creators to re-invest in new creative works. Copyright also provides the legal certainty that creative businesses need to innovate and provide their work to consumers in new ways and on new platforms, particularly in the digital world,” he suggested.
“For example, well intentioned initiatives can have unintended effects and impede the emergence of innovative new services on cloud-based platforms. That is why it is imperative that any changes to the framework, such as the newly proposed copyright exception for private copying, are approached with great care and attention, so as not to undermine efforts to innovate and provide better services to consumers,” he advised.
“We sincerely hope governments around the globe will respond positively to the ongoing representations being raised by the creative industries on this point. Cultural diversity, imagination, investment and innovation must be encouraged, and strongly supported, in order to flourish. The UK government has an important role to play in guaranteeing that thousands of companies, and millions of creators and workers from the UK and across the EU who depend upon copyright and its effective protection, can afford to continue creating and investing in the artistic and media businesses,” he said.
“Our creators and creative industries deserve a future at least as bright as their past. Key to that bright future is a sustainable Internet benefiting everyone – one that operates fairly, with proportionate, balanced rules while also nimble enough to innovate and meet consumer demands.
By working together to ensure that creators continue enjoying the freedom and protections they need, we can also ensure that these great innovations continue to drive the digital age. So once again I want to thank the UK government for putting this terrific summit together and I thank all of you for being here to help ensure that bright future,” he concluded.