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'Piracy sites don't love music - they love money'

Tim Ingham
'Piracy sites don't love music - they love money'

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP today offered some remarkably strong words in favour of the UK record industry – even telling Google that if it doesn’t “step up and show willing” to tackle piracy, it risks being punished by new laws.

Former Treasury Minister Javid, who was named Culture Secretary in April, gave a keynote address this afternoon at the BPI’s AGM in London, and pulled no punches when it came to describing the Coalition Government’s intention to fight music piracy.

He referenced the Government’s £2.5 million support of City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, PIPCU, which is working with industry groups such as the BPI to tackle copyright infringing websites.

“A pilot scheme saw a 12% drop in advertising [on piracy sites] from major household brands, the kind of big names that lend legitimacy to illegal sites,” said Javid. “It’s a small first step. But over time the list, along with action taken by payment facilitators, will provide a valuable tool for making copyright infringement a much less lucrative business.

“And that’s the best way to stop the career copyright criminals… Copyright crooks don’t love music - they love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.”

Javid said that the mission to reduce piracy in the UK wasn’t just up to Government and the music industry, as he pointed the finger at Google and other search companies who continue to direct users to pirate sites for music content.

“They must step up and show willing,” said Javid.  “That’s why Vince Cable and I have written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, asking them to work with you to stop search results sending people to illegal sites.

“And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach.”

In a warmly-received speech, Javid also teased the possibility of tax relief for UK music labels in future. With one eye on the next General Election, expected in May next year, he said that tax breaks had already proven a “huge success” amongst high-end TV and animation companies.

Film studios, video games companies and theatres have all also received tax incentives from the Coalition Government in recent years, but music has so far been left out in the cold. According to Javid, that doesn’t have to last forever.

“[These tax breaks] provide a clear lesson for any other creative industry, including music. From my previous job I know full well that the Treasury is not always keen on giving up tax income. But I also know that if you present them with a compelling case, they will listen.

“And I’m always willing to listen to what you have to say and raise your concerns and ideas at the highest levels of government.”

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor, said: “It is encouraging that in Sajid Javid we have a Secretary of State who clearly values the vital contribution that British music – artists and labels – makes to this country’s economy and to our profile overseas.  I welcome his willingness to examine the case for tax breaks for investment in music and his unequivocal invitation to Google and other search engines to work with rightholders to make it easier for fans to find legal music than illegal sites – and his announcement that government 'will be looking at a legislative approach' if real progress is not made.”    

More coverage from the BPI AGM will apear on MusicWeek.com and in Music Week magazine later this week.

You can read Sajid Javid MP’s speech in full below – with highlights in bold.

Good afternoon everyone.

It’s great to be here today, a day of firsts and lasts.

The first time I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at a BPI event. And, sadly, the last time Tony Wadsworth will be here as chairman.

Tony – over the past decade and a half you’ve been a great servant to both the BPI and the industry it represents. I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say you’ll be very sorely missed.

I can’t help but notice that your departure coincides almost exactly with my arrival as Secretary of State. I’m going to try and not take that too personally.

I know some people really were delighted when I took over the Culture, Media and Sport brief – my children, who have decided that their dad now has the coolest job in the world.

I’m sure that’s because of the difference I can make in so many important policy areas.Nothing to do with my new-found ability to get tickets for the Capital FM Summertime Ball, or Sam Smith at Somerset House!

For some reason, when I was at the Treasury they just weren’t interested in my offer of a behind-the-scenes tour at the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee…

Two years ago, Tony stood up in front of this AGM and gave a pretty forthright speech. He ended by saying: “It’s time for our government to show us that music matters to them.”

Well, Tony, today I can tell you that music really does matter to us. It matters to us for so many reasons.

I often speak at events like this and talk about how Britain punches above its weight in the creative industries.

But when it comes to music, that metaphor doesn’t even come close to doing us justice.

The UK accounts for less than one per cent of the global population, yet one in every eight albums sold anywhere in the world is by a British artist.

To put it another way, sales outstrip population by a factor of almost 14 to one.

From One Direction to David Bowie, we’re home to many of the most successful artists recording today. In six of the past seven years, the biggest-selling album worldwide has been by a British artist. And we’re second only to US in terms of music exports.

This time last year a Russian official dismissed Great Britain as “A small island that no one listens to”.

He was half right. We’re a small island all right. But EVERYONE is listening to us.

That success is driven by the talent of our incredible artists. But they’re supported by the hard work and dedication of the remarkable industry that stands behind them.

A £4.5 billion industry that employs over a quarter of a million people and is represented by the people in this room today. I know the 21st century has not always been kind to you.

The rise of new technology, new platforms and new ways of sharing and experiencing music has created a wealth of opportunities. But it has also brought with it new challenges for the industry and new dangers.

And there have been victims, with some familiar and much-loved names vanishing from our high streets. But those companies and organisations that have come out the other end have done so stronger, in a great position to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

The people in this room are the survivors, successful businessmen and women. You know what it takes to reach the top. You know how many obstacles you have to overcome. And you know the scale of the challenge that British businesses faced four and a half years ago.

The deepest recession in almost a century. The biggest budget deficit since the Second World War. The world’s largest bank bailout. A nation saddled with debt and an economy struggling to grow.

When the Coalition came to power, we knew that Britain couldn’t have a sustainable recovery without having a thriving private sector. And I’m not just talking about factories and financial services.

I’m talking about every corner of our economy, including our world-beating creative industries.

That’s why we’re working tirelessly to support people like you. Not by trying to micromanage your businesses, tying you up in red tape, or telling you how to do your jobs. But by doing everything we can to help you do what you do so well.

We’ve created the Music Export Growth Scheme, providing £2.5 million to help artists from Slow Club to Smoove & Turrell share their music on the world stage.

We passed the Live Music Act, supporting grass roots music by freeing pubs and other small venues from the bureaucratic burden of unnecessary license applications.

We’re investing £246 million in music education hubs, nurturing the next generation of artists by giving every child the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument. We set up the British Business Bank, offering £45 million of equity finance to creative companies.

We’re investing almost a billion pounds in the digital infrastructure that is so important for the modern international entertainment industry.

And, through the Arts Council, taxpayers and lottery players contributed £95 million to music projects up and down the country last year alone.

Then there’s the tax relief for creative content.

The programme has already proved a huge success with high-end TV and animation. Almost half a billion pounds was invested in UK content last year as a result of the changes this government introduced.

And the studios behind Star Wars and Harry Potter have both pointed to the importance of tax relief for filmmakers in their decisions to make their latest movies here.

We’ve also extended tax relief to video game developers and theatres after their sectors provided us with robust, evidence-based and well-sourced arguments for doing so. That provides a clear lesson for any other creative industry, including music.

From my previous job I know full well that the Treasury is not always keen on giving up tax income. But I also know that if you present them with a compelling case, they will listen. And I’m always willing to listen to what you have to say and raise your concerns and ideas at the highest levels of government.

That’s why I’m here today, and that’s why I’m looking forward to meeting with leading figures from the music industry at a roundtable tomorrow.

So we’re backing music, we’re investing in music, and we’re slashing the red tape that often strangles music. But for all that, I know that the area where you most want our support is copyright. I completely understand why.

People in your industry have a true vocation. You identify talented artists and record, release and publicise their work not just to make money, but because you love music. You have a passion for it. And intellectual property protection underpins that passion. It allows you to do what you do best.

Without enforceable copyright there would be no A&R, no recording studios, no producers, no session musicians, no publicity, no artwork. None of the vital ingredients that take the music created made by talented artists and turn it into something the whole world can enjoy.

It’s what our past success was built on, and it’s what our future success depends on. But the digital age has created new threats for copyright holders around the world.

According to OFCOM, in just one quarter of last year almost 200 million music tracks were consumed illegally. 200 million!

Another 100 million games, films, books and TV programmes were also pirated. And that was only in one, three-month period.

No industry – and no Government – can let this level of infringement continue on such a massive, industrial scale.

I know some people say the IP genie is out of the bottle and that no amount of wishing will force it back in. But I don’t agree with them.

We don’t look at any other crimes and say “It’s such a big problem that it’s not worth bothering with.”

We wouldn’t stand idly by if paintings worth hundreds of millions of pounds were being stolen from the National Gallery.

Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple. And it’s vital we try to reduce it.

That is why we’re working with the entertainment industry – and the technology industry – to deliver a robust, fair and effective enforcement regime. One that protects the rights of copyright holders and punishes criminals, but doesn’t hamper creativity, stifle innovation or block new, legitimate ways of enjoying music.

That’s the thinking behind Creative Content UK.

It retains the basic idea of the Digital Economy Act – millions of people will be contacted directly if they are caught infringing copyright, a powerful tool to influence behaviour. However, as an industry-led initiative rather than a top-down government one, it will be quicker, more responsive and cheaper to enact.

CCUK will also be easier to adapt as new threats to intellectual property emerge. That’s a real asset in an age where technology consistently moves faster than legislation. But just because it is an industry-led initiative does not mean that Government is not actively supporting it.

We’re providing £3.5 million for a broad educational campaign that explains why copyright matters and where the boundaries lie. A generation of young people have grown up under the impression that if something’s on the internet it should be free. We need to get the message across that if they value creativity – and most do – then it has to be paid for.

For the first time in UK history, the Prime Minister has appointed an adviser on intellectual property. I know many of you worked closely with Mike Weatherley as he was producing his recent reports into the role of search engines and ‘following the money’.

Thank you all for the contributions you made. The reports certainly raised some interesting and important points. We’re now looking at them carefully and I’m considering how best to move forward; you can expect to hear more from me on this in the coming months.

We’ve given £2.5 million to support the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, PIPCU.

The first unit of its kind in the world, PIPCU is working with industry groups – including the BPI – on the Infringing Websites List. The list identifies sites that deliberately and consistently breach copyright, so brand owners can avoid advertising on them.

A pilot scheme saw a 12 per cent drop in advertising from major household brands, the kind of big names that lend legitimacy to illegal sites.

It’s a small first step. But over time the list, along with action taken by payment facilitators, will provide a valuable tool for making copyright infringement a much less lucrative business. And that’s the best way to stop the career copyright criminals.

As I said earlier, you work in music because you love it.

Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.

Of course, it’s not just up to the government and music industry to deal with this issue.

Let me be absolutely clear that I completely agree with Mike Weatherley when he says that the search engines also have to play their part. They must step up and show willing.

That’s why Vince Cable and I have written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, asking them to work with you to stop search results sending people to illegal sites.

And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach.

In the words of Martin Mills, “technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters.”

When it comes to tackling IP theft, the Government, the music industry and the technology companies are three sides of the same triangle.

We are all connected, we all have a role to play, and we must all work alongside each other to build a fair and legal online economy. This hotel stands on the site of the legendary Gaiety Theatre, home of countless Edwardian musical comedies. The actors and singers who trod the boards here were the music stars of their day.

Had the paparazzi existed a century ago, the papers would have been filled with the exploits of the glamorous “Gaiety Girls” who made up the chorus.

It’s more than a hundred years since the theatre opened, and almost 60 since it was demolished. So much has changed over the decades, society has been transformed almost beyond all recognition.Yet music remains a core part not just of the economy, but of what it means to be British. It doesn’t just reflect who we are, it IS who we are.

So let me finish by reassuring you once again that the Government really does recognise and appreciate how important your work is.

We are on your side and we want to help and support you. Because you are the best in the world at what you do. Because you make a huge and vital contribution to British life and British business.

And because – to the government, to my department, and to me personally – music really does matter.

Thank you.

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