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U.K. Government Anounces Anti-Piracy Strategy, Safe Harbor Review

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The British government has unveiled its plans to combat the growing problem of copyright infringement, pledging to reduce the level of illegal of content available online and push for "clarification" from European regulators on safe harbor legislation.

Published today, the "Protecting Creativity, Supporting Innovation: IP Enforcement 2020" policy paper sets out its four year strategy "to address the multiple and growing challenges posed by IP infringement and counterfeiting" across multiple creative and retail industries.

They include six main points, including lowering the amount of illegal music downloads and streams available online, tackling the trade in counterfeit goods and strengthening the legal framework to facilitate easier access to justice. Other recommendations involve increasing education around intellectual property and making it safer for U.K. rights holders to trade across borders.

Within those headline categories, specific proposals include reviewing notice and takedown procedures, including the introduction of a code of practice for intermediaries. The possibility of rights holders being able to take action directly against infringers will also be explored.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) paper also says that it will push the European Union for clarification of legislation surround platform liability -- aka safe harbor -- and for "improving the current system to allow rights holders to more effectively protect and legitimately exploit their copyright."

The document goes on to say that the IPO will encourage enforcement agencies to use the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to ensure criminals do no benefit financially from their activities. It also vows to continue its fight against pirate websites by cutting the chain of advertising revenue.

According to the IPO, since the creation of the Infringing Website List (IWL), an online portal containing an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, was launched in 2013 there has been a 73 percent decrease in advertising from the U.K.’s leading ad agencies appearing on pirate websites.

Since its creation in 2013, the IPO funded Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has investigated more than £33 million ($47 million) worth of IP crime and halted over 11 million visits to copyright infringing sites," says the British government. 

"As a country famed for its creators and innovators, we know that these intellectual property rights lie at the heart of the economic and creative wellbeing of the U.K," says Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister for intellectual property, in the paper’s foreword. "But these crucial IP rights are undermined and devalued on all fronts by infringement, whether by the wholesale sharing of digital content through myriad file sharing and streaming websites, deliberate copying of patent or design protected products, or the importation and sale of counterfeit goods on a massive scale."

"That is why as a government we have made effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights a priority, and this document sets out a roadmap for how we will address this challenge," she goes on to say, calling for support from  domestic and international partners.

"The challenge is to keep up the momentum we have," continues Neville-Rolfe. "Bring others in the U.K., Europe and further afield along with us, and ensure that we continue to improve the outlook for the U.K., for creators of all kinds, and for those looking to invest in the U.K. as a great place to do business." 

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