Downloads will lead to "creative crunch", warns industry

13 May 2009 View Comments
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Illegal downloads are putting jobs in the creative industries under threat

Representatives of the creative industries have called on government to stamp out illegal downloading if the UK is to avoid a "creative crunch" that will strangle a key part of the economy.

An alliance of industry groups including the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the National Union of Journalists yesterday laid out a policy statement on the measures they want taken.

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Speaking at a joint meeting of the Federation of Entertainment Unions, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor warned that an endless free lunch for consumers on digital content was unsustainable.

"Unless ministers strengthen proposals for ISPs to deal with illegal behaviour online, a 'creative crunch’ will follow – investment in new British talent will ultimately dry up," he said.

“Even though the music business is creatively fit and strong, freeloading reduces investment in new music and in turn threatens the jobs of thousands of young people working in A&R, recording, marketing and promotion."

Taylor listed three actions that the creative industry would like to see addressed in the government's final Digital Britain report, which is due for publication next month.

First, to recognise that the music sector has already transformed its business models online.

Second, to take seriously the argument that a “write and sue” policy will not be effective.

Third, to introduce legislation requiring ISPs to act against persistent illegal downloaders.

But the Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) argued that complicated licensing processes are at the root of the problem and can be reformed.

ISPA secretary general Nicholas Lansman said the body still does not advocate legislation that would force its members to act on illegal downloaders.

"It is important to recognise that a major part of the solution lies in licensing reform and the availability of legal content online," he said.

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