Culture secretary Tessa Jowell pledged Oct. 5 to protect Britain's creative industry from intellectual property theft and warned that European states would have to present a united front to tackle bur
LONDON (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Culture secretary Tessa Jowell pledged Oct. 5 to protect Britain's creative industry from intellectual property theft and warned that European states would have to present a united front to tackle burgeoning piracy in vast growth economies such as India and China.
In a speech to European media and business leaders attending a Creative Economy Conference staged as part of the U.K.'s current EU Presidency, Jowell outlined a plan of action she feels must be undertaken to promote intellectual property protection.
Initiatives to be undertaken jointly by the departments of culture and trade will include educating young consumers about the importance of IP, sharing best-practice enforcement across anti-piracy agencies and raising the debate at the next G8 economic summit.
"We are making it very clear that we won't tolerate intellectual property crime in the U.K. We believe it's best tackled in three key ways -- effective enforcement, better understanding of IP and meeting legitimate consumer expectations," Jowell told the conference.
"Between them, India and China now account for nearly two-fifths of the world's economic population -- five times that of the EU. Europe has to present a united front, look to the future, adapt to change and seize the opportunities it creates," she said.
The U.K.'s creative industries -- including media, advertising, production and broadcasting -- account for 8% of Britain's annual income. Against this backdrop, £4.5 billion ($7.9 billion) a year is lost due to IP piracy and copyright theft, the culture minister pointed out. Across the continent, the industries contribute around €1.5 trillion ($1.8 trillion) to the EU's economy, she said.
Jowell's pledge coincided with an announcement by the European Commission on Oct. 5 of a broad political initiative to attack piracy and counterfeiting in the European Union. The commission, the EU's executive body, said the focus on intellectual property rights would be a key element of plans to improve Europe's industrial climate.
The emphasis on copyright -- in sectors ranging from movies and music to software and design -- is aimed at creating a more nimble and efficient European economy, better placed to compete with U.S. and Asian rivals.
The commission said the new drive would involve examining different policy options, including stiffer penalties for IP pirates, employing new anti-piracy technologies and working with Internet operators to clamp down on illegal Web sites.
EU industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen said the plans to revive the economy would not involve throwing millions of euros in aid at struggling sectors. Instead, he promised to cut red tape, boost research and education, improve market access and restructure industry to be more flexible.
"One thing we don't want to do is to go back to import quotas and protective tariffs," he said.
Separately, Jowell said at her conference that the U.K. government would deploy "light touch" regulation to govern new media, saying that Britain would not deploy heavy-handed laws to confront the distribution of television via the Internet and mobile phones or damage their burgeoning economic growth.
"We know we need new regulations to reflect the fact that TV services are now being delivered via the net and mobile phones. But we don't want to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as regulation of these platforms will have an enormous impact on how they develop," Jowell said.
Leo Cendrowicz in Brussels contributed to this report.