Major UK copyright awareness initiative

Representatives from the UK’s creative industries and major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have joined forces with the support of government to launch Creative Content UK, a new partnership that will boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services and help reduce online copyright infringement. It is understood that the partnership will build on existing work in this area such as the Industry Trust for IP Awareness and its findanyfilm.com initiative.

Creative Content UK will comprise two key components. The first, which will launch before Spring 2015, will be a major multi-media education awareness campaign, led by content creators and part-funded by government, that aims to create wider appreciation of the value and benefits of entertainment content and copyright.

The second component is a subscriber alerts programme that will be co-managed and co-funded by ISPs and content creators and scheduled to begin at a later date. Participating ISPs will alert and advise subscribers when their accounts are believed to have been used to infringe copyright. Account holders will receive an alert from their ISP, advising them unlawful filesharing may have taken place on their connection and offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of entertainment content.

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced the Government’s support for this initiative and pledged £3.5 million in funding for the education awareness component of the campaign. Cable revealed July 2 at Creative Industries Council (CIC) event that he and Javid would be rolling out a new initiative shortly that would strengthen IP protection in the industry.

Cable described the UK’s creative industries as one of its “brilliant” global success stories. “We have unrivalled creativity – from record breaking musicians to box office films – that excite and inspire people all over the world. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules. That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime – but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs,” he advised.

Javid said the Creative Sector was a key driver of the UK economy contributing £8 million to the UK economy every hour and underpinning over 1.5 million jobs. “Copyright is the foundation on which the Creative industries stand and we must ensure it remains strong and continues to support the growth of the sector. The alert programme shows industry working together to develop solutions which support the long-term health of the UK’s creative industries. It will play a central role in raising awareness of copyright and pointing people toward legal ways to access content and I welcome this effort,” he declared.

The initiative has cross party support. Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Secretary said she strongly welcomed the initiative. “We need to ensure that talented UK creators and digital innovators see a continued financial return from online services for their ideas and efforts.  I hope this initiative will encourage greater uptake of digital services and more responsible use of the Internet to safeguard jobs in the UK and reinforce our position as leaders in world class creativity.”

Creative Content UK founding partners include the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), and the four main internet service providers: BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media with the prospect of other ISPs joining at a later stage. It also has the backing and support of a broad range of organisations from across the creative community including the BBC; Equity; the Film Distributors’ Association; ITV; the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA); the Musicians’ Union; Pact the Premier League; the Publishers Association; and UK Music.

The campaign will aim to inform and encourage consumers – ranging from the next generation of digital users to ‘silver-surfers’ – about the huge range of entertainment content that is available from legal and licensed sources; giving them greater confidence when buying and using content online and providing additional guidance about internet safety.

Creative Content UK will operate within the wider context of successful programmes aimed at combating copyright infringement such as the blocking of illegal sites and working with advertisers and payment processors to cut off revenues to such sites. Full details of the initiative, including its branding and the scope of the education awareness campaign activity will be announced in due course.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director EMEA of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) said it was “fantastic” that the UK creative community and ISPs had come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. “We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative. This is just one piece of the overall approach to tackling illegal online infringement and promoting the importance of copyright. This will enable consumers to receive the best possible user experience and sustains the UK’s creative community and economy, incentivising the creation of new movies and other creative content,” he commented.

According to Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, it’s a wonderful time to be a music fan. “You can listen to almost any song ever released, instantly, wherever you are. But not everyone is familiar with all the different ways to do this – whether for free or from a paid service – while at the same time making sure the artist is also fairly rewarded. This landmark initiative marks the first time that entertainment companies, broadband providers and the Government have come together in a major campaign to engage consumers through their passion for music, film, TV and other content and to support them in enjoying it safely and legally online. It should mark a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK.”

John Petter, CEO BT Consumer, said the telco was committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. “That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.”

Lyssa McGowan, Director, Sky Broadband, said that as both a content creator and ISP, Sky understood how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. “As a result, we’re pleased to be partnering with the MPA, BPI and other major Internet providers to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content. We look forward to working with our partners to provide useful guidance for our customers on the issue and, in doing so, help support Britain’s creative industries.”

Dido Harding, CEO, TalkTalk said that British consumers benefited from some of the most diverse and exciting creative content. “As an ISP, we want to help our customers access that in a safe, legitimate way. That’s why we’ve long been committed to working with rights-holders and Government to ensure we tackle copyright infringement, but in a way that supports our customers. This voluntary agreement, combined with the accompanying consumer awareness campaign, means that customers will have the information they need to make the right choices about how they access content. That’s good news for consumers and content owners alike.”

Dana Strong, Chief Operating Officer, Virgin Media, said the operator had worked with the creative industry and other broadband providers on the campaign that will inform its customers about the value of content and help them find compelling, lawful sources online.

Representatives of the creative industries, have also welcomed the announcement. Alison Wenham, Chairman and CEO, AIM (Association of Independent Music) said the initiative was a positive step for the music industry and consumers alike. “The support of government and the ISPs is very welcome as is their acknowledgement of the importance of protecting copyright and intellectual property. We believe that educating music fans about the huge diversity of legal, online services available to them is a highly effective way of tackling piracy and promoting the value of music.”

James Purnell, Director of Strategy & Digital, BBC said that through digital inclusion schemes and services such as BBC iPlayer and BBC Playlister, the BBC had been introducing audiences to legitimate online services, whether for TV, film or music, and helping to grow the digital content market for the whole sector. “We welcome today’s awareness-raising agreement, which should help audiences to find great content online in a way that is safe, rewards right holders, funds the production of new content, and supports the important contribution of the creative industries to the UK’s cultural life and economy”.

Christine Payne, General Secretary of Equity and Chair of the Creative Coalition Campaign , described the agreement as “fantastic news” for workers across the creative industries from actors to lighting engineers to recording artists and many more whose livelihoods depend on copyright. “Education is absolutely critical to tackling online copyright infringement, and encouraging greater use of legal services – as opposed to pirate sites – will help ensure that our creative industries continue to provide jobs and growth for years to come,” she asserted.

Crispin Hunt, Musician and Songwriter/Producer and Co-CEO the Featured Artist Coalition, advised that three million people had downloaded one of his tunes from a popular Pirate site. “Each person thinks it can’t hurt and that one download won’t make a difference. But it really affects all musicians from big bands to underground DJs and it’s beginning to change the quality of music itself. I love that people like the tune, but every musician I know would really appreciate it if those people who want music for free would go on Spotify with Ads, or some such instead. If this initiative teaches fans to do that, it would really help give a bit back by rewarding the players not the pirates for the music they enjoy.”

Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, President of Film Distributors’ Association said that educating consumers of all ages about the value of intellectual property was an essential part of the battle against online piracy. “I have long argued that dissuading people from watching film content from illegal sites will only be possible when that content is available legally online in ways consumers want. This initiative from content makers and distributors, with government support, will ensure that everyone knows how to find their favourite films online and won’t be driven to look for them on illegal sites,” he suggested.

Jean Prewitt, President & CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) said that Creative Content UK was an exemplary cross-industry initiative that, with Government endorsement, promised to help give consumers the safe, legitimate and extraordinarily rich Internet experience that they deserve. “IFTA’s membership of independent production and distribution companies here in the UK and around the globe has been profoundly affected by copyright infringement and we are pleased to participate on our members’ behalf in the effort to expand awareness of legal online sources of content and to educate consumers to avoid online theft.”

Fru Hazlitt, Managing Director, Commercial and Online, ITV said the UK TV industry was world-leading and was underpinned by copyright protection. “There is a job to do in educating people about the importance of copyright and its role in supporting television in the UK so it is very encouraging that content investors, ISPs and government have come together in this partnership. This is just the sort of initiative that will help us to ensure that people know about all the ways they can get great content legitimately and to reduce infringement.”

“Online piracy puts the livelihoods of musicians at risk and means they are not fairly rewarded for their work,” warned John Smith, General Secretary, Musicians’ Union. “This campaign will help to raise awareness of all the legal music sites that are available and we hope will encourage the general public to back musicians and buy legally.”

John McVay, Chief Executive, Pact said that new digital services are offering consumers unprecedented access to their favourite TV programmes whenever and wherever they want. “The move to digital presents a tremendous opportunity for the TV production sector but one that can only be fully realised if consumers use legal services instead of accessing them from pirate sites that contribute nothing to the creators and makers of the original content. Today’s announcement is a welcome step forward that will help ensure the television production sector can continue to thrive in the digital age.”

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music, said that songwriters deserved the right to earn a living from their craft and the vast majority of music lovers would support them in this. “Today’s initiative will help reduce inadvertent infringements and help consumers make positive choices about how to enjoy music online, providing a welcome boost to the UK’s important creative sector.”

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive, Publishers Association, suggested that tackling online copyright infringement effectively was a joint enterprise, requiring the involvement of rights holders, Internet service providers and government. “It is great that all these parties are now coming together to create a campaign which will make clear the importance of intellectual property to creators and the wider economy, and ensure that the internet delivers, not detracts value from the creative industries.”

Dan Johnson, Director of Communications, Premier League, said: “Intellectual property rights underpin the continued success of the Premier League, allowing our clubs to invest in developing and attracting some of the world’s best players. It also allows the competitive and compelling football our League is renowned for to be played out in safe and welcoming stadiums that are 96% full of passionate and engaged fans. Tackling online copyright infringement is vital to ensuring this investment in world-class talent and facilities can continue. The united front being shown today by the creative community, the Government and internet service providers on this important issue is a significant step in the right direction. It will benefit every level of the game as well as the fans and participants that sustain English football.”

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music said: “Much more effort is needed to educate young people about the digital market they get their music and creative content from. This three-stage education programme must succeed in encouraging young people to get their content from licensed sites. Those that continue to infringe after being led repeatedly to a legal option will feel the sting of a targeted alert to their household account. This campaign will inspire and guide young people to instinctively look for legal online content. We must encourage our young fans to invest in a value chain that pays British creative industries and the talent they invest in.”

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