2019 American Music Awards

Biz Reacts To Digital Britain Report

The U.K. music industry has reacted to the proposals contained in the interim Digital Britain report, with labels trade body the BPI describing the measures as a "step forward" but not enough to tackle online piracy.

The report, published today (Jan. 29), states that measures requiring ISPs to pass on information about customers sharing music on peer-to-peer networks to rights-holders would make it "significantly easier" for targeted action against the most significant infringers.

However, the BPI and umbrella music industry body U.K. Music have both questioned the focus on targeting individual offenders. In a statement, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said the measures to tackle unlawful file-sharing are a step forward by government, "but what we need is a bold stride."

"Everyone agrees that action is needed to tackle unlawful file-sharing. Requiring ISPs by law to inform their customers about illegal activity is a welcome acknowledgement by government that ISPs should play an active role in ensuring creators are rewarded for their work on the Internet," said Taylor.

"However, it is hard to see how letter-sending alone will achieve the aim of significantly reducing illegal file-sharing which the government has set itself. Consumer research shows that file-sharers are only likely to change their behavior if they know that letters are the first step in a process and further action will be taken by service providers."

He added: "The interim report proposes targeted legal action against the most significant infringers but few people believe that the answer lies in suing consumers. We believe that proportionate measures taken by ISPs would be more effective."

The proposals build on the memorandum of understanding signed last summer, which resulted in ISPs writing letters to those subscribers who had been identified as infringing rights by sharing music.

Lord Carter, minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, headed the report and further consultation will take place before the final publication in late spring.

U.K. Music CEO Feargal Sharkey said in a statement that the organization is pleased that government recognises "the scale of the challenges faced by the music and other creative industries in regards to unlawful file-sharing."

"However, we do not believe that the form of intervention proposed by today's report - suing consumers - is the best way forward," added Sharkey. "Obviously there is a need for greater dialogue over coming months. U.K. Music looks forward to working with Lord Carter and Government to ensure that our collective goals and shared ambitions are met, and that any answers meet the needs of an industry eager to embrace its future."

There is also a proposal for an independent, objective body called the Rights Agency - with representatives from the music industry and ISPs - which would encourage the development of new services and enforce anti-piracy measures. Technical solutions to piracy would also be part of its remit. The report also states that the Rights Agency "may need to have the power to act to ensure that enforcement measures are effective and proportionate."

Meanwhile, the commercial radio industry has welcomed the report's support for DAB digital radio as a "primary distribution network for radio."

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of industry body RadioCentre, said in a statement: "The report offers a real opportunity to secure a viable digital plan for radio. In particular, we welcome the report's recognition of the importance of extending digital radio coverage. We will rise to the challenge of providing a clear industry plan to 'drive to digital' and remain convinced that this must include an extension of analog and multiplex licences."

Donnach O'Driscoll, CEO Absolute Radio, said: "Digital listening is at the heart of Absolute Radio's future plans and we applaud the report's support for DAB.

"We continue to invest heavily in promoting DAB on air and remain hugely positive about the benefits. Put simply, better quality transmission means better sounding music and more listeners."

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