IFPI chairman and world-renowned artist Plácido Domingo urged Governments not to allow copyright to be eroded in the digital age at the International IP Enforcement Summit in London yesterday.
Domingo highlighted the importance of intellectual property enforcement for protection of creators and culture.
He told the meeting of international IP experts that protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights “is one of the most important missions in our society and for our culture today.”
Domingo added: “There is a view – mistaken in my opinion - that in the digital world copyright matters less than in the physical world. It is emphatically not so. In fact, copyright needs protecting as vigorously – if not more vigorously – on the internet.”
He addressed the debate around copyright reform in the EU, saying, “Europe will this year have new commissioners and a new parliament. I urge them, in their review of copyright, to promote and protect copyright, not to weaken it. Please, do not allow artist and producers’ rights to be eroded. Rather, look at how they can be better enforced.”
Domingo stressed the need for collaboration to protect intellectual property rights in the online world. “We, in the creative world, cannot protect our rights alone. We need help from the bigger actors. The search engines, for example. When someone uses a search engine to find music, they should not be directed to illegal sources of music. This directly hurts artists and other creators.”
He also called for help from governments, saying, “Enlightened governments will understand that strong, properly-enforced intellectual property rights lead to a rich culture and economic prosperity.”
The International IP Enforcement Summit is backed by the European Commission, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office. The summit aims to provide an effective forum for discussion and debate on crucial international IP enforcement matters; increase engagement between national and international partners in combating counterfeiting and piracy; and support interaction and sharing of successful examples of international best practice strategies and techniques.
You can read Domingo’s speech in full below:
"It is a great pleasure for me to be here tonight. You are the experts from around the world, with the mission to protect and enforce intellectual property rights.
"I think this is one of the most important missions in our society and for our culture today.
"Thank you sincerely to the organisers, Lord Younger and President Campinos for inviting me to this dinner of the International IP Enforcement Summit. And thank you, Viscount Younger, for your kind words.
"I have come directly this evening from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden where I have been conducting rehearsals for our production of Puccini’s Tosca.
"It was a short journey across London - from the Opera House to this meeting. From my world of art and music, to this world of policy making and protection of creators’ rights.
"But in fact, we are working in the same world.
"My work is to entertain and inspire through music. Yours is to protect the world in which MY work is made possible. And not just my work. Also the work of young artists and creators. Young people, trying to build careers with their creative talent.
"Your daily work is vital to our culture and to our economy. I thank you for your dedication.
"When I look around me, here in the Science Museum, I see innovation and technology all around. I am no stranger to this world. The music business has seen dramatic technological change in my lifetime. At the start of my career, my recordings were available on just LPs and cassettes. Today they reach a worldwide audience via many different digital music platforms.
"This has brought wonderful opportunities. People can listen to operas – to all music - as they go about their everyday lives. Through all kinds of devices, anywhere, any time.
"Technology is transforming all our lives – not just in music but in films, books and across all cultural fields. It is improving people’s access to culture. Connecting artists with a vast global audience.
"All these are positive changes. And the pace of change is not slowing – it is accelerating!
"But there are challenges too. Profound challenges affecting the rights of artists and the whole creative community.
"Of course, you in this room will understand this. I will not lecture you about subjects which, I know, are on your agenda at this IP enforcement summit. And by the same token – if you will excuse me - I will not ask any of you to sing a solo from Tosca!
"Let me point to three key challenges which I hope will guide your work.
"First, the challenge of ensuring rights holders are fairly rewarded in the digital world.
"There is a view – mistaken in my opinion - that in the digital world copyright matters less than in the physical world. It is emphatically not so. In fact, copyright needs protecting as vigorously – if not more vigorously – on the internet.
"It is copyright that ensures that the internet can be a source of creative, cultural content. It is copyright that has made it possible for the music industry to adapt to changing technology. And it is copyright that prevents the internet being just wires and devices, without creative artistic content.
"We have learned an important truth about the digital world in recent years – that it cannot be a separate world untouched by law. Copyright laws to protect creators and artists should be respected. And they should also be enforced.
"For what is the value of a law protecting intellectual property rights that is not enforced?
"I know that today many governments are looking at copyright. In the European Union there is a debate on whether new rules are needed. Europe will this year have new Commissioners and a new Parliament. I urge them, in their review of copyright, to promote and protect copyright, not to weaken it. Please, do not allow artist and producers’ rights to be eroded. Rather, look at how they can be better enforced.
"Second, more than ever before, there needs to be collaboration.
"We, in the creative world, cannot protect our rights alone. We need help from the bigger actors. The search engines, for example. When someone uses a search engine to find music, they should not be directed to illegal sources of music. This directly hurts artists and other creators.
"We need collaboration also from the internet companies. And the advertising industry. We need their support. We need them to be serious about creators’ rights and to act with effective measures.
"For example, they could make it harder for people to go to illegal music sites that take money from artists and rights holders. This kind of cooperation helps artists survive and maybe even prosper in their careers. It helps them make a daily living. And it helps protect our culture.
"And finally, we need help from governments.
"As you many know I have a role myself in this area – as the Chairman of IFPI, representing the recording industry, and more broadly, the interests of the creative community. 3
"From time to time I meet with ministers and heads of state. I say that enlightened governments will understand that strong, properly-enforced intellectual property rights lead to a rich culture and economic prosperity. I say this because I passionately believe it.
"I have had a long and rewarding career in music. I wish the same for the generation of artists who are beginning their careers. I am optimistic about the future. I have great confidence in your work to maintain and protect copyright.
"Thank you once again for listening to me. Thank you for the honour of inviting me. And thank you for all the work you are doing to shape a world in which artists and creators can prosper."