New U.K. Report Calls for Tougher IP Enforcement
New U.K. Report Calls for Tougher IP Enforcement
New U.K. Report Calls for Tougher IP Enforcement

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    The British government is promising tougher action against illegal file sharing. In a new report issued Feb. 22, Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport sets out a 26-point program to preserve and promote the country’s creative industries.

    Along with suggestions for improving education and training, is this recommendation:

    “We will consult on legislation that would require internet service providers and rights holders to co-operate in taking action on illegal file sharing – with a view to implementing legislation by April 2009. Finding voluntary, preferably commercial solutions, remains the ideal, but the Government will equip itself to introduce legislation swiftly if suitable arrangements between ISPs and relevant sectors are not forthcoming or prove insufficient. We will also explore tougher penalties for copyright infringement. These actions signal the Government’s strong support for the creative industries as we move towards a fully digital world.”

    The report recognized the need for “a balanced IP framework relevant to today’s world,” but its discussion concentrates on the “business imperative” for collaboration between content companies and network operators. Content owners, the report said, “are seeking to offset the decline in their traditional revenues” as CD and DVD sales slump and new business models are still being developed. Telecom network operators, are trying to recoup their investment in their networks and gain some “incremental revenue” from providing content.

    In arguing that copyright infringement is a “serious economic crime,” the report notes: “Intellectual Property Rights are generally poorly understood. Many members of the public don’t see anything wrong with free or pirate access to content.” The report promises to strengthen the school curriculum and to beef up IP enforcement efforts. For the record, the words “fair use” don’t appear in the report. Instead, the report notes that the digital environment, which now accounts for 90 percent of music single sales, is composed of “radical new opportunities to which consumers are responding with enthusiasm.”

    A recommendation to the U.K. government in December suggested a “a limited private copying exception by 2008 for format shifting for works published after the date that the law comes into effect.” The new report recognized that the government would conduct an “awareness campaign” if that new exception is enacted.