Copyright is the most important intellectual property right under-pinning the creative industries. The UK’s copyright laws have evolved since the 18th Century to give creators control to distribute, license and protect their works; in the 21st Century this is just as important to the financing of film and television production in a digital age as it was when cinema, VHS cassettes and broadcast television were the only ways the public could watch audiovisual works.
UK copyright law falls under the remit of the UK Intellectual Property Office. The BVA has extensive dealings with this government agency as it develops copyright policy.
In 2004 the BVA launched a four-pronged strategy to defend and promote copyright which is still actively pursued:
- Manage and improve access to our assets/content
- Lobby for legislative reform and better copyright and IP Crime enforcement by public agencies
- Extend industry enforcement online and into UK cinemas
- Create public awareness and appreciation of the value of copyright works
This four-pronged approach has proved very effective in the audiovisual field.
- The BVA works closely with its members to share best practice in copyright protection measures, including certification of suppliers to verify their security systems, and in the promotion of legal services
- The BVA has worked over many years with BIS, the UK IPO, the DCMS and Home Office to ensure the government is aware of the links between IP theft and serious and organised crime and the multi-million pound losses incurred by the video industry to physical and online copyright theft.
The BVA was the founding member of the Alliance for IP, which it chaired for 14 years, to join forces with all industry bodies whose members are IP-dependent, in order to influence policy makers to support and value IP rich sectors and their contributions to the UK economy and jobs.
- The BVA has a seat on the board of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which it founded in 1993. Its achievements speak for themselves and most recently FACT has made notable progress in removing unauthorised links and websites hosting members’ content, legal actions against operators of illegal sites, the prevention of illicit recording in UK cinemas, and liaison with brand owners whose advertising allows criminals to make a profit from illegal websites. FACT was instrumental in the establishment of PIPCU through sharing intelligence with the City of London Police.
- In 2004 the BVA set up a body, the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, to build public awareness for the value of video entertainment, film and TV and an appreciation that people who pay to go to the cinema, watch video on disc or online, and through subscription and pay TV services are contributing to the audiovisual sector’s future and the ability of producers to create more of the content they love. The objective is to stimulate a change in the behaviour of people who free-ride by using illegal sources of video entertainment, such as fake DVDs, illicit websites and unauthorised file-sharing services and encourage them to use official sites and services, using sign posts such as FindAnyFilm.com.
Millions of pounds have been invested in consumer campaigns, not only by video distributors but also by retailers and the film sector, targeting the core infringing group of 16 to 24 year olds (predominantly male), parents and young people, which have resulted in increased propensity to pay for content and greater use of legal services across all age groups.