Memorandum by British Music Rights
British Music Rights was established to promote greater
awareness of the interests and concerns of British music composers,
songwriters and publishers to UK and EU policymakers and the wider
public. The primary focus is to communicate an understanding of
the rights and rewards for creativity in the music business; the
value of those rights to UK plc; the impact of new technologies
upon music creators and publishers and the resulting policy and
legislative implications. Our member organisations are the British
Academy of Composers and Songwriters, the Music Publishers Association,
the Performing Right Society and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection
Music creators are at the cutting edge of content
creation in the global electronic market place. Indeed, music
lies at the heart of the e-commerce revolution and has a key role
to play in accelerating e-commerce, creating a digitally literate
and entrepreneurial Europe and enhancing social inclusion. Music
is driving the formation of new business models for the online
environment and the experience and success of our sector are being
monitored by the other key creative industries, such as literature,
film and audio-visual. In turn, the new technologies are having
a fundamental impact upon the structure of the music industry
with the emergence of a plethora of new trading, distribution
and communication models.
British Music Rights is actively engaged in
representing the views of music creators on the wide-ranging initiatives
and consultations being introduced by the various EU and UK institutions
involved in e-commerce policy development. We are pleased to have
the opportunity to submit evidence to the Committee's current
inquiry and have raised our key points under some of the specific
questions you have highlighted for consideration.
1. What needs to be done to create confidence
and to stimulate e-commerce?
The focus for promoting confidence in e-commerce
has concentrated on the security measures that need to be developed
and implemented to encourage consumers to participate actively
in the digital revolution. However, it is vital that creative
content providers, many of whom are SMEs, are similarly incentivised
by a secure trading environment.
The ongoing production of high quality content,
which is a key driver of e-commerce growth, will be largely determined
by the development of a more robust legal framework to protect
and enforce online intellectual property rights. The key issue
for industry is the rapid agreement of appropriate EU rules on
copyright protection in the Copyright Directive and rules on service
provider responsibility for illegal transactions on the networks
in the e-Commerce Directive.
The Government's recently proposed Trust UK
could be used to promote both creator and consumer confidence
in legitimate e-commerce traders by identifying approved sites,
ie those that are licensed and offer only genuinely licensed and
authorised works, rather than illegal and/or counterfeit content.
There must also be support for interoperable standards for numbering
and encryption and rules on non-circumvention of encryption devices.
2. Does the European Commission's draft Action
Plan "eEurope: An Information Society for All" offer
a realistic means of promoting e-commerce in the EU?
We welcome the Commission's eEurope draft action
plan as a charter for best practice and motivation towards developing
a fully functioning e-commerce initiative. There is, however,
a crucial omission in the current proposalthe need to ensure
that the value of creative input is fully recognised with content
creators properly rewarded for their contribution as in the traditional
There is no reference, for example, to the imperative
of acknowledging the role played by, and the value of, content
in driving a networked community. This requires developing licence
schemes with rights owners for the use of their rights in implementing
networked education, public IT centres, and/or library systems.
This same problem was identified by British Music Rights in the
UK Government's approach to promoting an inclusive information
society, eg via the People's Network project in local libraries.
This key issue has now been acknowledged at the national level
but it is crucial that the same understanding is communicated
and adopted at the European level.
Our fundamental concern is to ensure that in
using digital copies and networks there is an appropriate awareness
of the value of music and that the interests of copyright holders
are recognised in order to ensure that the creative industries
are able to continue to invest in the talent and innovation that
are driving the e-commerce revolution. It is payment for the use
of copyright works today which provides the incentive and means
to create the content of tomorrow. Without such investment, the
primary goal of the e-Europe initiative to encourage European
citizens to participate in an information society with wide ranges
of top quality content will not be realised.
Consideration must also be given to the most
appropriate and productive role for the Commission in addressing
the copyright concerns we have raised in order to promote e-commerce
in the EU. The UK model of government and the creative industries
working in partnership to raise consumer awareness of the importance
of copyright with the creation of the Creative Industries Intellectual
Property Working Group offers a useful regional/national blueprint
3. Will codes of conduct and co-regulation
provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention
by national governments and the EU?
Codes of conduct and co-regulation have a useful
role to play in providing detailed models of operating in specific
areas, eg the notice and take-down procedure foreseen by the e-Commerce
Directive and being developed in more detail by Rightswatch.
However, in relation to copyright issues co-operative measures
of this kind cannot alone provide sufficient protection. It is
vital that there is a broad legal framework in place to define
the boundaries and provide means for legal enforcement and redress
if these more informal regulatory methods break down. To this
end, we are contributing to the completion of the appropriate
rules in the Copyright and e-Commerce Directives currently under
discussion in Europe and will be inputting to their speedy implementation
in UK law.
4-6 Institutional Structures
We are interested in the increasing debate about
the need for modernisation of both the European and national legislative
systems in order to accommodate the speed of e-commerce developments
and the resulting operational and policy implications.
17 March 2000
1 DTI White Paper on "Modern Markets:
Confident Consumers". Back
Rightswatch is an EU funded project whose partners include
BT and MCOS (representing the rights societies MCPS and PRS which
license the use of music on the internet). Its objective is to
develop codes of conduct and procedures to simplify the giving
of notice of illegal content to ISPs who provide hosting, caching
or access to websites. Based on the model of the Internet Watch
Foundation, it is adapted to the specific requirements of copyright
and licensing. Back