UK-China Copyright Week: Copyright enforcement speech
On August 31, Ros Lynch (Copyright and IP Enforcement Director, Intellectual Property Office) spoke on copyright enforcement in Beijing.
Thank you for the introduction.
I am very happy to be here in Beijing and participating in copyright events throughout this week.
As mentioned during the introduction, the creative industries are vitally important for both the UK and China. Creative industries – including publishing, music, film, TV and gaming software – together account for over 5% of GDP of both the UK and China, respectively.
In the UK, 1 in 18 people are employed in the creative industries: this is a vitally important sector both economically and culturally.
And we are proud of our creative industries in the UK:
- The British publishing industry is a world leader, with revenues of £4.3 billion (RMB 43 billion) in 2014, 40% of which come from exports.
- The global strength of UK publishers was on full display last week at the Beijing International Book Fair. This strength covers both trade and journal publishing, with 16% of the world’s most cited articles being first published in the UK.
- UK-qualified film also has an 11% share of global box office revenues …
- … and a 14% share of the global music market, with 5 of the top ten best selling artists in the world coming from the UK.
Intellectual property is an important part of the policy mix that has contributed to this success. A good Intellectual Property (IP) regime should:
- Facilitate the distribution of works; and
- Reward and incentivise creators and those that invest in their work.
This morning we discussed a range of policies that contribute to this. My focus now is on copyright enforcement.
In the UK the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the Government agency responsible for coordinating enforcement efforts to protect this key economic driver. This includes building the right legal framework and working with law enforcement agencies and other partners across government.
We take the issue of IP infringement seriously, and our efforts are recognised globally – Taylor Wessing’s Global IP Index has judged the UK to be the best place in the world to obtain, exploit and enforce IP rights.
A full range of enforcement options are available to IP rights holders in the UK, including civil, criminal and border enforcement. Today I will share with you some examples of our approach to IP enforcement.
1. Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU)
As in all countries around the world, the growth of the Internet has created new benefits and opportunities to society at large, but also facilitated growth of online copyright infringement.
To help address this issue, in September 2013 we launched a dedicated online IP crime unit, run by the City of London Police. This unit is commonly known as “PIPCU”.
It is dedicated to tackling serious and organised online piracy and counterfeiting (affecting digital and physical goods) and to protect legitimate businesses operating in the UK. The IPO is providing funding of £5.56m over a four year period.
This is a key challenge. Copyright infringement can have a significant economic impact. Digital technologies mean that there is an increasing degree of technological sophistication required in investigating copyright infringement. It is crucial that there is a specialist, dedicated resource for tackling this problem.
And since its launch PIPCU has: arrested 52 people; suspended over 5,000 internet domain names; and diverted more than 11 million visits from copyright infringing sites to the PIPCU domain suspension site.
In addition to prosecution and other measures in place to deal with offenders, PIPCU has driven innovative approaches to prevent and disrupt copyright infringement. “Operation Creative” is one example of this.
Operation Creative is a pioneering partnership between PIPCU and the advertising and creative industries. Under the scheme, owners of websites confirmed as providing copyright infringing content are given the opportunity to correct their behaviour and begin to operate legitimately.
If they fail to comply other tactical options may be used, including seeking suspension of the site from the domain registrar, and disrupting advertising revenue through the Infringing Website List (IWL), an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites. All sites listed are identified and evidenced by the creative industries and verified by PIPCU.
Since the launch of Operation Creative and the IWL, there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on copyright infringing websites.
2. Section 97a
But UK law enforcement can only reach so far. In cases where copyright infringing websites are based outside the UK, and therefore beyond the reach of UK law enforcement, rights holders can apply to the High Court for an injunction to block access to these sites. These orders are made under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act (1988).
Over 140 websites, offering illegal access to films, V programmes, music, sports streams, and e-books have now been blocked by ISPs due to “97a orders”.
As more cases have come before the courts the scope of the blocking orders has evolved. Where a site subject to a blocking order changes its URL or DNS (possibly in order to work around the blocking order) ISPs are also required to block subscriber access to these amended websites and proxies as part of the blocking order.
When Mr Justice Birss – a judge in the High Court – visited China last year he discussed 97a orders with counterparts in the Chinese judiciary.
3. Industry cooperation
Tackling copyright infringement requires all parties to work together in a responsible and constructive manner. In the UK, this includes working with industry on voluntary measures to tackle copyright infringement.
For example, the Minister for IP, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, chairs regular roundtable meetings with representatives from the most popular search engines in the UK (and creative industry stakeholders. The aim of these meetings is to achieve voluntary measures to stop search results from pointing internet users towards websites hosting illegal copyright infringing content.
Another example is our work with the advertising industry to try and reduce the revenue generated by infringing websites, through the Advertising Working Group.
The Group provides a forum for discussing how to reduce instances of legitimate advertising from appearing on, and funding, IP infringing websites.
4. Education & awareness building
Finally, building respect for IP amongst consumers is also a key part of reducing copyright infringement.
The UK Government is providing £3.5 million to co-fund a 3-year educational campaign run by Creative Content UK. The campaign aims to create wider appreciation of the value and benefits of entertainment content and copyright. It will help to reduce online copyright infringement, and promote the use of legal digital content. Creative Content UK is an industry-led initiative to help consumers understand the importance of copyright, the damage that piracy causes, and where they can find legal sources of content. Notices will be sent to those detected by copyright owners of infringing via unlawful peer-to-peer file sharing.
Consumers have said that they often don’t know what is legal and what is illegal – this programme will help to clarify their uncertainties, steer consumers towards legal offerings, and highlight the vital role copyright plays in providing jobs and economic growth.
Most people are honest, and do not need much encouragement to stay that way, or take the necessary steps to stop (say) a child from using the family connection to file-share.
Of course, some people will just ignore this – nobody is pretending that it is a panacea. But as part of a broad campaign to dissuade people from ripping off other peoples’ creativity it is well worth trying.
And all this is backed up by research to better understand consumers’ behaviour and attitudes towards online digital content. Surveys were carried out in 2012, 2013 and earlier this year. The most recent survey shows that 62% of internet users in the UK have downloaded or streamed music, TV shows, films, computer software, video games or e-books. This is up from 56% in 2013, though I believe still below levels seen here in China.
There was a 10% increase in UK consumers accessing content through legal services, although one in five consumers still access some content illegally.
The most common reasons given for infringing were because it’s free and convenient. Respondents said they would be encouraged to stop infringing if there were cheaper legal services and if everything were available legally.
So as all this shows, the UK approaches the challenge of tackling online IP infringement in an integrated manner, through a combination of enforcement, educating the public and providing consumers with the ability to access legitimate digital content. Director General Tang, ladies and gentlemen.
Over recent years the UK and China have regularly exchanged information on copyright enforcement. This has included:
- Judicial exchanges on site-blocking orders and interim injunctions;
- Criminal law enforcement discussion on emerging risks such as illegal set-top-boxes and high-grade optical disks; and
- Evidence procedures that are not over burdensome to rights-owners seeking relief from infringement.
These exchanges have been fruitful and I am pleased to continue these exchanges today.
Thank you for listening. I look forward to the presentations of my co-speakers and to the discussion session that will follow.