UK Music reinforces its commitment to working with UK government

DATE: 3 August 2011

UK Music reinforces its commitment to working with government to ensure the UK's creative sector has the right framework for growth

Intellectual property is vital to this country’s economic future. Recent Government research has highlighted that investments made by UK IP-based businesses are worth at least £65 billion a year.  Businesses in the creative industries, such as music, are recognised drivers of economic growth.

UK Music’s objective is to develop and grow the licensed digital market – encouraging a virtuous circle where fans can access a range of legitimate online services, where those services can evolve, and where those who create and invest in music are rewarded for their efforts.

Site blocking

Significantly reducing the volume of unlicensed usage is an essential part of this approach, and we remain committed to working with Government and technology partners towards these ends.

Feargal Sharkey, CEO of UK Music said: “Rogue sites that operate with impunity and without licenses are a barrier to growth of a legitimate market for creative works. Ultimately, their existence is to the detriment of UK jobs and the UK economy.”  

Following Government’s announcement, who wants to tell the 80% of music businesses that employ fewer than 5 people, and the thousands of artists who self-finance the production of their own albums, that to enjoy the protection of the law, all they need now is to have millions of pounds and spend years in court to protect their work. Is this really the way to grow our creative industries?

Format shifting

The music industry has no problem with private copying or format-shifting, so long as it doesn’t put UK artists and composers at a disadvantage to the rest of Europe.  Our quarrel is not with consumers.  They should be free to enjoy the CDs they bought on the devices they own.

We will support a new exception to copyright law so long as it complies with mandatory EU legislation.  But we oppose any Government plan that would leave UK artists and composers the worst off in Europe.

We’re incredulous that the UK Government should even aspire to denigrate its own artists and creators by launching a consultation on how to leave them worse off than artists and creators in 22 other EU countries.

Parody – where’s the evidence?

(i)                 The first point: is there a problem here?

Google’s submission specifically mentions the spectre of entrepreneurs being unable to launch comedy websites.  But is there any evidence of parody and pastiche being suppressed online? Would an exception for parody unleash a new wave of online parody?

The example highlighted in the Review (“Newport State Of Mind”) has actually been available to view online since July last year (note also the disclaimer ‘This video will likely be pulled from YouTube…enjoy it while you can’)

Conclusion: evidence would suggest that, with 48 hours of video footage being uploaded to YouTube every minute, there is practically no evidence of parody being suppressed.

(ii)        The second point: unintended consequences.

Creators must retain moral rights over their work. An exception for parody opens up loopholes that are potentially damaging to creators’ careers, as well as the business interests of publishers who specialise in licensing creative works.

What if a work is “parodied” by political extremists?

Or “parodied” by a corporate brand for commercial gain?

Conclusion

Feargal Sharkey said: “Collectively, UK music businesses have licensed more digital services than any other European territory. Equally, significant investment is being made in infrastructural developments, such as global repertoire databases, that will better facilitate future business. And we are ambitious to do more.”

“We will respond in detail to each of the Government’s recommendations in due course, but welcome any measures that recognise the vital role of creativity and IP in building this country’s economic and digital future.”

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