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10 March 2009

Criminalising Copyright Theft (Epolitics article)

Unlike the banking industry, the UK film industry is currently going from strength to strength. The recent Oscar and BAFTA successes of films like Slumdog Millionaire, Man on Wire and The Duchess, ran alongside awards for performances by Kate Winslet and many others for technical expertise. These are just the tip of the iceberg in an industry that we should all be proud of.

Internationally, UK films grossed over £3 billion in 2007 and this is increasing annually. With over 38,000 people directly employed and an estimated 95,000 associated with the UK Film Industry, any threat to it must be taken seriously. Copyright theft is on the increase and estimates show that approximately one quarter of the British population has been involved in some form of unauthorised activity, many from knock-off DVDs. What many might think as a relatively harmless purchase of a film for the children, could in fact be funding other illegal activity such as the import of hard drugs, which might later be on the streets and available to those same children.

One title that we now hold in the UK is for being the pre-eminent source of full illegal recordings of films in Europe. In the last 18 months we have overtaken Russia in this respect. Camcording in cinemas is the source of 90% of first release fake DVDs seized and illicit film files on the internet. Fake DVDs can be on the streets within 24 hours of a UK film premiere and films are particularly vulnerable where they have been premiered in the UK.

At present camcording of a film in UK cinemas is not a criminal offence and in my debate today I will be calling for this change in the law.

Those who work in the creative industries should be rewarded for their work and this should be protected in law. Unless we ensure the creative industries are protected from copyright theft, we will all be losers.

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.