The CEA has today offered a cautious welcome for proposals for tackling the problem of illegal online file-sharing of creative content, including film, made by Government in its Digital Britain report.

The report, published yesterday, recognises that the ease with which broadband internet allows digital content to be distributed and copied presents a significant challenge when it comes to protecting creative works.

Building on the considerable efforts made by the film industry to tackle the issue, the report proposes:

  • The creation of a Rights Agency, bringing industry together to discuss further ways to prevent unlawful breaches of copyright law. The Agency will have the power to act to ensure enforcement measures are effective and proportionate. Both Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and ‘rights holders’ will be asked to fund this body; and
  • Government legislation requiring ISPs to notify infringers that their conduct is unlawful. They will also be required to collect information on serious repeat infringers and make it available to rights holders on receipt of a court order. The industry will be required to maintain a Code on Unlawful file-sharing, supported by backstop powers overseen by Ofcom. The code would cover appeals, evidence and cost sharing.

Commenting on the proposals, CEA Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:

“The online sharing and distribution of illegally obtained content is a key driver of the illicit recording of film in cinema theatres – over 90 per cent of such content on the internet sourced back to the UK began life in this way.

We are therefore pleased to see Government acknowledge not just the importance of this issue, but also the central role that ISPs must play in addressing infringements by their customers.

However, we would have liked to see the proposals go further in terms of the action an ISP should take where  there is evidence that its service is being used to facilitate film theft. As discussions on these issues go forward, we will continue to work with film industry colleagues in pressing Government to go that extra distance.”

The Government’s fuller response on the issue of online illegal file-sharing can also be found here.