BPI calls for illegal site blocking

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The BPI, the UK record labels association, has welcomed the announcement from the Government that it will bring forward legislation in the autumn to improve safety and reduce harm online. The BPI will press the Government to use the opportunity to bring in new measures to boost the UK’s fast-growing creative industries, which now contribute £92 billion (€105bn) per year to the UK economy.

“The BPI welcomes the Government’s decision to bring forward a Bill to address online harm,” declared Geoff Taylor, the CEO of BPI. “This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK’s music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for Internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users.”

“Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs.”

The BPI proposes that Government should:

  • Legislate for a new ‘duty of care’ for online intermediaries and platforms, requiring them to take effective action to ensure their services are not abused by businesses encouraging consumers to access content illegally;
  • Establish a new fast-track process for blocking illegal sites;
  • Place a requirement on platforms to block repeat illegal posting of the same content and to remove the accounts of repeat infringers;
  • Bring in penalties for online operators that do not, as required by law, provide transparent contact and ownership information to consumers and businesses.

The British music industry is a global leader, and whilst recorded music revenues rose by 10.6 per cent in 2017, the biggest rise since 1995 with trade revenues growing to £839 million, growth is constrained by the constant need to identify and address illegal sources of music online. For example, the BPI has sent more than 600 million requests to remove illegal copies of British music from Google and Bing.

The creative industries are growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy. A greater responsibility by online companies to co-operate in enforcement of copyright will be a significant economic benefit post-Brexit.

The BPI has taken a large number of actions against individual websites – 63 injunctions are in place against sites that are wholly or mainly infringing and whose business is simply to profit from criminal activity.

The Government has acknowledged the issue in the Creative Industries Sector Deal, where it has agreed to oversee new roundtables to work with the online advertising industry, social media and online market places to agree, where appropriate, further action to reduce online infringement.

Within the strategy it identified the need for steps to detect and remove illegal content, improving the effectiveness of notice and takedown arrangements, reducing incentives for illegal sites to engage in infringement online and reducing the burdens on rights holders in relation to protecting their content.

Legislation in this Bill, to take powers to intervene with respect to operators that do not co-operate, would bring focus to the roundtable process and ensure that intermediaries take their responsibilities seriously. Search engines, which agreed a Code of Practice overseen by Government in 2017, now cooperate in reducing the exposure of illegal sites in the top ranking of search pages.


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