Lord Mandelson speech transcript on P2P copyright and creative industries

November 11th, 2009 by Barry Sookman Leave a reply »

I recommend you read the speech by Lord Mandelson to the c&binet forum, 28 October 2009. http://bit.ly/1vmHXm

He makes some observations relevant to Canadian copyright reform about the importance of the creative industries and the need to create a proper legal framework to ensure they thrive. He also explains that the graduated response regime the UK is implementing is a carefully nuanced and procedurally fair process.

Why the creative industries matter

“I’m a big defender of an economy based on making things, which is why I often speak about manufacturing. But in terms of added value in a global economy the difference between making a car or a plane and making a TV show or a video game is largely a meaningless one. Especially when you consider how integral and central to the manufacturing process innovative design is.”

The digitalisation of creative industry

“But of course the creative industries are undergoing an immense shift, driven above all by the internet and by digital technology. We now have greater unmediated access to cultural goods than ever before, and in formats that make them easier to appropriate and share than ever before. A world where creative content is conceived, published, distributed, advertised and consumed digitally is revolutionary for the users of cultural goods, and revolutionary for the people who produce them.”

“This means we are going to have to work even harder to make sure the environment for creative industry here is right. At a very basic level that means making sure we have the digital infrastructure in Britain – which is one of the key questions that the Government’s Digital Britain report addressed.
But the big challenge that the digital economy poses for the creative industries, of course, concerns content producers’ control over their ideas and goods. The creative industries are literally built on the idea that it is legitimate to protect the value of creativity through copyright and intellectual property rights. If they don’t retain that, frankly they don’t have a viable business model left.

I was shocked to learn that only one of every 20 tracks downloaded in the UK is downloaded legally. One in twenty. You just can’t have sustainable creative industries under the pressure of this kind of theft – and that’s what it is. So I want to be absolutely clear. The British Government’s view is that taking people’s work without due payment is wrong and that, as an economy based on creativity, we cannot sit back and do nothing as this happens.

The trouble is that too many users of digitised cultural goods simply don’t see it that way. When 15 year old intern Matthew Robson reported back to his bosses at Morgan Stanley in the summer on the attitudes of his peers to digital content his key conclusion was pretty much: they want what they want and they don’t really want to pay for it. That was the view of a 15 year old intern at Morgan Stanley. And, of course, on the internet it’s incredibly easy to get just that. The important cultural and ethical sense that it is an issue of right and wrong is eroding before our eyes. This is not just morally unacceptable: it’s also commercially unsustainable for artists, for investors and producers alike.”

A new business model

“Now, it seems self-evident to me that trying to evolve new business models against these kind of attitudes is very hard, and I take my hat off to those who have tried. Further investment in new business models is important. But the Government also has a responsibility to act. That is why we have decided to intervene and legislate to tackle the problem of file-sharing, and it is why other countries, including France and the United States, are doing the same.

What we will be putting before Parliament is a proportionate measure that will give people ample awareness and opportunity to stop breaking the rules. It will be clear to them that they have been detected, that they are breaking the law and that they risk prosecution. If necessary we have also made it clear that we will go further and make technical measures available, including account suspension. In this case, there will be a proper route of appeal. But it must become clear that the days of consequence-free widespread online infringement are over.

When I reopened this issue back in the summer there was a lot of contentious debate, not surprisingly. But, let me be clear on this point: technical measures will be a last resort and I have no expectation of mass suspensions resulting. If we reach the point of suspension for an individual, they will be informed in advance – having previously received two notifications – and will have the opportunity to appeal. But the threat for persistent individuals is, and has to be, real, or no effective deterrent to breaking the law will be in place.”

“The bottom line for the Government is that the creative industries are and must remain central to a balanced, knowledge economy. They are one of the keys to the recovery now underway and our whole economic future. There is no economy on earth in which the creative industries play such an important part in overall growth and job creation, and that is an immense asset to the UK that we are determined to preserve and strengthen….

I hope that our approach and the stable, predictable framework being put in place will allow good commercial decisions to be taken for the benefit of everyone including consumers, who we are all here to serve.”

For more information about the Copyright Modernization Act or Bill C-11 or copyright reform, see Change and the Copyright Modernization Act.

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