Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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New measures to address online file-sharing

New measures to address online file-sharing

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2008/152) issued by The Government News Network on 24 July 2008

The Government today welcomed a landmark industry agreement to address unlawful file-sharing of film and music online.

The agreement is signed by the six major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the music and film rights-holders and Government.

This is a world-first solution aiming to provide consumers with content in the way they wish to use it, encouraging new uses of technology and protecting Britain's world leading creative industries.

The agreement is central to the Government's preferred industry-led approach, outlined in a consultation document released today on legislative options to address unlawful file sharing online.

The approach involves the signatories working together to:

* Engage with and educate users about unlawful file sharing

* Make material legally available online in a wide range of user-friendly formats

* Create a self-regulatory environment, with the involvement of Ofcom, including informing consumers of the illegality of file sharing and pointing to alternative legal methods available.

Business Secretary of State John Hutton said:

"This is an intelligent approach to tackling unlawful fire-sharing by industry and ISPs. It tells consumers what they can do, rather than just what they can't.

"This light-touch approach keeps up with the pace set by technology and will protect consumers, creative industries and the use of technology now and in the longer term."

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Andy Burnham said:

"It's a great thing that new technology lets young people today explore popular culture in a way my generation simply could not. But this freedom cannot extend to allowing people to think they can access content for free. We expect Britain to produce the best bands and films in the world. But that will only happen if we find new ways of rewarding our creative talent and investing in new names.

"This is why today's announcement is so significant. It holds out the hope of a sustainable future for music and our other creative industries whilst ensuring that consumers continue to get the full benefits that new technology can offer.

"Britain's creative industries have grown quickly in the last 10 years and will play a bigger role in our future. Their success is critically underpinned by workable systems of copyright and that is why the issues we are discussing today go to the heart of our economy

"We made a commitment to tackle these difficult issues and I am encouraged by the new focus and momentum. But we want solutions that work for everybody."

The approach will pilot letters to be sent to the registered user of an internet account when their account has been identified as having been used to unlawfully share copyrighted material. The letters could point consumers to other sources of material available legally and in a variety of formats.

ISPs and rights holders will produce a Code of Practice together on how they will deal with alleged repeat infringers. Government will consult to give this Code legislative underpinning.

Ofcom will facilitate discussion between the parties and approve the final Code of Practice. Ofcom will also ensure that the self-regulatory mechanism is effective, proportionate and fair to consumers.

Notes to editors:

1. The consultation document is available at http://www.berr.gov.uk/consultations/index.html

2. The Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the ISPs, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and endorsed by the Anti-Film Theft Taskforce.

3. The six ISPs are Virgin Media, Sky, Carphone Warehouse, BT, Orange and Tiscali.

4. The BPI, formerly known as British Phonographic Industry, is the body that represents the British recorded music business.

5. Ofcom involvement will ensure that the self-regulatory mechanism is effective, proportionate and fair to consumers.

6. The Anti-Film Theft Task Force is a coalition of audio-visual organizations comprising; The UK Film Council, All Industry Marketing (AIM), British Video Association (BVA), Cinema Exhibitors' Association, (CEA), Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Film Distributors Association (FDA), Film Education, Industry Trust for IP Awareness, Motion Picture Association (MPA), and Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT).

7. ISPs do not monitor individual accounts. Letters to customers are generated by rights holders identifying material available on file-sharing websites which they believe breaches copyright. During this process, it is possible for rights holders to identify the IP address. Rights holders then alert ISPs who can isolate the details of the user's account of that IP address and send a letter. The letter informs the customers that their account has been used to share copyrighted material without permission and points customers towards legal alternatives. At no stage is a consumer's personal web browsing monitored.

8. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform helps UK business succeed in an increasingly competitive world. It promotes business growth and a strong enterprise economy, leads the better regulation agenda and champions free and fair markets. It is the shareholder in a number of Government-owned assets and it works to secure, clean and competitively priced energy supplies