EMI chief calls for protection on int'l level.

EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli is urging British policymakers to put the creative industries "at the center of the government agenda" and take the lead in defending their rights at an international level.

Nicoli made this plea today (Feb. 4) at the Advancing Enterprise 2005 conference in London, organized by the department of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.

Nicoli acknowledged that he was encouraged "by the emphatic and very public support that we've received recently from senior government ministers" on recognizing the importance of the intellectual property sector. He mentioned the creation last July of the cross-departmental Creative Industries IP Forum -- in which he represents the British music industry - as a major initiative.

"The Forum is doing an excellent job for the U.K., but perhaps we now need to develop an international focus," Nicoli said. He said he hoped that when the U.K. government assumes the Presidency of the European Union on July 1, it will take these discussions into a European and international sphere.

He linked the failure of the EU to meet the growth criteria set by the Lisbon Agenda -- which aims to make Europe a major force in new technologies by 2010 -- to "its complete failure to recognize the importance of creative industries."

"We don't ask for subsidies," Nicoli said. "What we need most is a strong legislative and regulatory framework based on respect for intellectual property. More needs to be done to track down and pursue illegal use of intellectual property rights. Just because intellectual property is intangible, doesn't mean that it has no value. The EU has a role to play in helping to educate consumers about the importance of intellectual property."

He urged the EU to seek agreements with third countries establishing that counterfeiting and piracy "are criminal offenses that should be treated no less seriously than other criminal offences such as forgery, theft and fraud."