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Member States and the Commission mobilise to fight counterfeiting and piracy

Valerie | 15 Dec 2009, 11:14

The Intellectual Property Rights debate took a big step forwards this week when European member states and the European Commission met in Stockholm under the umbrella of the European Observatory for Counterfeiting and Piracy to build on practical initiatives to respond to the increasing threat of counterfeiting and piracy and foster administrative cooperation across the EU.

Hosted by the Swedish Presidency, the group will work on existing legal frameworks and establish a databank on the specific areas of threat facing the EU in recognition of the need for greater enforcement efforts through practical non legislative means.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said:

“The EU is a world pacesetter for innovation, culture and creativity. It is time to put a stop to organised criminals freeloading on the ingenuity and hard work of the most resourceful businesses in the world. Counterfeiting and piracy is an affliction that is bringing criminality ever closer to our doors. It destabilises our societies and threatens public safety and jobs. More than this it places our hard earned money into the hands of criminals who have no conscience about using it to fund other forms of crime, including drugs and pornography.

We must do more to protect ourselves and the Observatory is a fundamental step in bringing together Member States authorities, private businesses and consumers in a joint, concerted effort to rid ourselves of this dangerous problem.“

c&binet hits the headlines

Valerie | 09 Nov 2009, 16:17

It’s only been two weeks since the inaugural c&binet forum and the widespread media coverage generated in the build up, during and post event indicates that interest has certainly not died down. 

Although much of the media spotlight was on Lord Mandelson’s announcement in which he introduced tough new measures to combat persistent illegal filesharing, there were a number of other themes that also came through in the numerous pieces of print, online and blog coverage and indeed, via the live Twitterfeed, where, at one stage, #cabinetforum trended at number three in the top 10 most popular Twitter tags.

Media headlines from Government committed to upholding copyright laws to “c&binet conference: Advertising the key” and “c@binet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation” illustrate the diversity of discussions that took place during the three days, which ranged from the IP and copyright debate to the future of TV and new business models.

There was overriding consensus on the exciting opportunities afforded by the shifting landscape in which “content is king” and “consumers are in control” in this new digital world. As the Guardian reported, Simon Fuller argued that there is still room for many players in the emerging digital media market, whilst Ariadne Capital’s Julie Meyer proclaimed that “content is the new software”, a welcome message surely for many.

The #cabinetforum twitter feed is perhaps even more revealing in understanding reaction to the event and the issues discussed from the audience and those following in cyberspace. Feedback ranged from “c&binet: looks like the place to be today” to “user/audience generated content - live. Interesting to hear” and “c&binet, an historic event, one we need 2 build on - internationalising the big challenge & big opportunity”. It was also good to hear that “Twitter was a great part of #cabinetforum” – it hopefully provided a platform for enabling open and honest discussion in addition to the live updates from the event, enabling people from as far afield as Vietnam and India to listen and participate in the event.

To quote Gamesbrief, c&binet was certainly an excellent start at getting the creative industries to talk to each other about new ways of collaborating and the lessons learned will no doubt pave the way for further discussion about the future of c&binet and its evolving agenda.

Media & blog coverage:

Two weeks until the ‘Cabinet Forum’...
Creative Times, published 15.10.09

Coutts backs C&binet
Music Week, published: 20.10.09

Strike one to c&binet proposals
Music Week, published 07.11.09

c&binet conference: Advertising the key, says Highfield
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 1:23pm

C&binet Conference: Government committed to upholding copyright laws
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

@ c&binet: Creative Industries So Far Divided On The Way Ahead
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 6.15 am

@c&binet: Free Content Must Pack a Paid Punch
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 8:29pm

@ c&binet: Vivendi Wants UK ‘Three-Strikes’, Mandelson Announcement Due Wednesday
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

Consider charging for iPlayer, says ex-BBC executive Ashley Highfield
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 1:56pm

David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 4:50pm

EMI’s Leoni-Sceti Calls For ‘Three Strikes’ Law
Billboard, published: 27.10.09

Government calls on Europe to clear up copyright
Music Week, published: 27.10.09 - 10:10am

The promise of Creative Britain
Wired UK, published: 27.10.09

Vivendi head calls for ‘three-strikes’ rule to tackle UK filesharers
Guardian,published: 27.10.09 - 12:07pm

Vivendi CEO says IPO an option for NBC Universal
Reuters, published: 27.10.09 – 7:19pm BJT

c&binet conference: Mandelson reveals ‘three strikes’ rule on illegal downloading
Media Week, published: 28.10.09

Cabinet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation
Games Brief, published: 28.10.09

Content is king in digital age, says Simon Fuller
Guardian, published: 28.10.09 – 07:21 am

Costs would exceed savings on Mandelson plan, ISPs say - and streaming companies not eager either
Guardian – Technology Blog, published: 28.10.09

Julie Meyer: “Content is the New Software”
Real Business, published: 28.10.09

Mandelson puts ‘three strikes’ internet plan in motion
ZD Net, published: 28.10.09 – 05:38 pm,1000000097,39843951,00.htm

Music boss: Mandelson is wrong on internet pirates
Times Online, published: 28.10.09

Net Pirates to be ‘disconnected’
BBC, published: 28.10.09

TV of the future ‘will predict what you want to watch’
Telegraph, published: 28.10.09 – 8:00 am

UK Will Urge EC To Legalise Mashups, Format-Shifting, Content Sharing
PaidContent, published: 28.10.09 – 12.48 pm

Cost of Mandelson plan would come to more than savings
Broadband Expert, published: 29.10.09

Government to protect ‘creative’ contractors
Brookson, published: 29.10.09

Illegal downloaders face web ban
Press Association, published: 29.10.09

Is the internet heading for a midlife crisis as it hits its 40th birthday?SC Magazine
SC Magazine, published: 29.10.09

JP Rangaswami on Lord Mandelson’s piracy plans
Telegraph, published: 29.10.09

Mandelson delivers on three-strikes warning. But will it make Pirates pay, or drive them underground?
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Peter Mandelson goes to war on web pirates
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Saving local journalism: some thoughts ahead of C&binet
Onlinejournalism Blog, published: 29.10.09

TalkTalk Threatens Legal Action Over Mandelson’s File-Sharing Strategy
eWeek Europe, published: 29.10.09

C&binet fever
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Commentary
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Creative Infrastructure Thoughts
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

Disruption and curiosity: #outofthecloset unconference
Pervasive Media Studio, published: 28.10.09

A c&binet unconference
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 29.10.09





File sharing crackdown divides music industry

Valerie | 16 Sep 2009, 15:50

The reaction to government proposals laid out last month to clamp down on unlawful filesharing has highlighted some disagreement within the music industry, with musicians such as Billy Bragg and Annie Lennox pitted against record labels and the Musicians’ Union.

According to the Observer, a coalition of artists including Lennox, Bragg and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason argue such laws would alienate their audience and risk criminalising music fans. The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) also argues that the planned crackdown fails to recognise “evidence that repeat file- sharers of music are also repeat purchasers of music”.

This week, music managers behind artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Pink Floyd have publicly voiced their opposition to the FAC position. Paul Loasby, whose clients include David Gilmour and Jools Holland, argued that it will lead to “complete destruction” of new artists’ careers, whilst Colin Lester, manager for artists such as the Arctic Monkeys called the comments of the FAC “outrageous”, citing it was easy for established, high-earning artists to take this view and that the big stars are neglecting the low-earning session musicians and lesser-known bands. Lily Allen also took a stand against internet piracy in a blog post in which she criticized established acts such as Radiohead for opposing the government plans.

Writing on her MySpace page, she said:

“It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it’s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge.”

Writing in the Times, Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus asks how songwriters and artists of the future will be able to support their creativity in the “era of free”:

“It must be possible to design a modern copyright environment that works with the internet without demanding surveillance that eats away at integrity. The UK Government is trying to address the problem and deserves support for having the courage to do so. We have to find a way of funding our future and not pretend that new revenue models are magically going to rescue us as the world of recorded music is destroyed by piracy.”

With the government deadline for comments in its illegal filesharing consultation approaching, industry pressure continues to mount, as illustrated by the latest news that indie trade body Pact and broadcasting union Bectu are backing a campaign to clamp down on illegal peer-to-peer file sharing on the internet.

Equity general secretary Christine Payne said:

“The fact that so many jobs are under threat is seriously alarming. There has never been a more critical time to take bold action against those who are threatening the livelihoods of everyone working in the entertainment sector.”

Google book deal prompts EU copyright law overhaul

Valerie | 09 Sep 2009, 19:08

Google’s controversial plan to digitise the world’s leading libraries took on a European dimension this week when Brussels announced a campaign to overhaul copyright law in the European Union’s 27 countries admist fears of trailing the US in digitising culture.

European commissioners Viviane Reding and Charlie McCreevey acknowledged the need to adapt Europe’s fragmented copyright legislation in a joint statement:

“If we don’t reform our European copyright rules on orphan works and libraries swiftly, digitisation and the development of attractive content offers won’t take place in Europe, but on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Although a 2005 class-action lawsuit by authors and publishers against Google led to $125m settlement and agreement on profit sharing, the agreement still needs US court approval. The long running battle has seen fierce opposition from Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and the German and French governments, as well as authors and their heirs, including the estates of Philip K Dick and John Steinbeck.

Microsoft warned today that the deal would give Google a stranglehold on the nascent digital book market:

“The proposed settlement confers on Google a new monopoly by authorising Google (and Google alone) to engage in the wholesale commercial exploitation of entire copyrighted books.“

Writing for the Huffington Post, David Balto, a senior Fellow at think-tank American Progress, believes that the benefits far outweigh the negatives – in this case, the anti-trust issue:

“Just as Google search (and other search engines) have revolutionised access to information, the Books project will serve as a democratising force across socioeconomic and geographic” he writes.

The ongoing battle undoubtedly brings the European copyright system into sharp focus. And as Google awaits a court ruling next month, the copyright landscape in Europe remains complex, with 27 different copyright regimes within the EU.

“We need to take a hard look at the copyright system we have today in Europe,“ the commissioners said. “Is the present framework still fit for the digital age? Will the current set of rules give consumers across Europe access to digitised books? Will it guarantee fair remuneration for authors? Will it ensure a level playing field for digitisation across Europe, or is there still too much fragmentation following national borders?“

China / US trade dispute lends urgency to piracy challenge

Valerie | 17 Aug 2009, 13:49

China is “actively” getting ready to appeal a World Trade Organization decision that calls for it to end restrictions on the import of US film and music products, a decision which could see diminishing demand for pirated goods.

The WTO panel said last week that China’s import and distribution regime for books and films violates international trade rules and should be revised. The Chinese import restrictions have been blamed for making fewer legal goods available and thus helping pirates profit and proliferate.

The US welcomed the WTO ruling as a “significant victory to America’s creative industries” which would help open up Chinese markets for everything from magazines to movie blockbusters as well as curbing rampant intellectual piracy, highlighting the increasing global importance of the Chinese market.

As this article argues, there is still a long way to go in a country where a pirated DVD is easily available for a third of the price of a movie ticket — often before the movie opens in Asian cinemas. It argues that the strictest enforcement of intellectual property laws are needed before US companies can reap big benefits.

The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) said last year that more than 99 percent of all music files distributed in China are pirated, and the country’s total legitimate music market, at $76 million, accounts for less than 1 percent of global recorded music sales.

Google and global music labels launched an advertising-supported free music download service in March to compete with pirates, a service it does not offer anywhere else in the world. The move was widely seen as a bid that the demand for music downloads would raise its profile in China, where it trails search leader However, it is also the first serious attempt to monetize the online market in China .

Kai-fu Lee, the president of Google Greater China, said:

“This is a huge leap of faith for us. We hope this will move the landscape to a legal model.”

Regulation vs. Revenue Generation in Search Advertising

Valerie | 18 Jun 2009, 15:05

Google has come under fire again for its encroaching dominance in the media industry, this time as a result of not supporting an expansion of Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulation for new media platforms in search advertising, the Guardian reports.

Despite controlling 80% of the search-advertising market, which makes up 58% of all online advertising spend in the UK, Google does not support the payment of levies to the ASA for policing the ads which appear on its site. As the Guardian explains:

“Advertisements aired on television and radio, or run on billboards or in print products, are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority and advertisers pay a levy - typically 0.1% of their annual marketing budgets - to fund the ASA’s system. However, while the ASA regulates all paid-for online search advertising - the sponsored links that pop up on the right-hand side of a browser window on Google, for example - no levy is paid on the cost of that advertising.”

The UK advertising trade body, the Isba is calling for greater self-regulation in search advertising and for the ASA’s remit to be expanded accordingly to so it can regulate the content of websites that consumers are finding through search engines but says search advertisers need to begin paying into the levy system in order to fund such an extension.  A standoff has emerged from a disagreement over how much the levy would be, who would collect it and whether all search advertisers should be forced to pay.

Depending its position, Matt Brittin, the managing director of Google UK argued that the company had been “constructively engaged ... throughout the process” and supports an increase in the ASA’s remit and the scope of the levy to fund it. But he is also concerned that the charge “is not levied on smaller advertisers, which make up the bulk of our advertisers”.

The dispute highlights the challenges of regulating the emerging digital landscape whilst taking advantage of the huge creative and commercial possibilities it creates, which will be a key talking point at the forthcoming c&binet forum.

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