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BPI urges government to make piracy part of the internet safety conversation

By | Published on Thursday 24 May 2018


Record industry trade body BPI has called on the British government to ensure that intellectual property matters are part of the conversation around “making the UK the safest place in the world to be online”.

That “safest place” ambition was confirmed in a statement issued by the Home Office and the Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last weekend in response to the publication of a green paper called the ‘Internet Safety Strategy’.

The government is now planning to produce a white paper that will set out possible legislation that could be introduced to tackle online practices that cause harm. That white paper will also consider the responsibilities of key web platforms like search engines, social media and user-upload sites in stopping harmful practices.

The notion of ‘internet safety’ covers a lot of things, with the government name-checking cyberbullying and online child sexual exploitation among the issues it seeks to address in its white paper. Though whenever it comes to the obligations of internet companies to monitor the content that moves through their platforms, you will usually also start talking about piracy and copyright infringement.

This is why the BPI sees this new white paper on internet safety as another opportunity to continue pressuring internet firms to become more proactive in policing piracy on their networks. Some of those net firms – principally the search engines – have already made some voluntary commitments in this domain, though as the government itself noted on internet safety issues at large, “while several of the tech giants have taken important and positive steps, the performance of the industry overall has been mixed”.

BPI boss Geoff Taylor says: “The BPI welcomes the government’s decision to bring forward a bill to address online harm. This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK’s music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users”.

He goes on: “Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs”.

Specific measures that the BPI is lobbying for include a fast-track system for web-blocking, an obligation to act over repeat infringement and repeat infringers, and the introduction of a new ‘duty of care’ for online intermediaries and platforms that would require them “to take effective action to ensure their services are not abused by businesses encouraging consumers to access content illegally”.