International

Creating a Front Line to Fight Battle for Intellectual Property

Monday, 15 December 2014

British Member of Parliament Mike Weatherley looks back on his stint as an IP adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and outlines his three-pronged strategy in winning the war against infringements Mike Weatherley says the turning point in his campaign against intellectual property rights infringement was the moment the British government decided to take him seriously about two years ago.

"In the past two years the British government has made very welcoming progress," says Weatherley. "Overall I would give the government a 'B'. Not quite 'A' yet but getting there."

The Conservative Party backbench parliamentarian – he was elected to his seat of Hove and Portslade on the southern coast only in 2010 – had previously been a businessman in the manufacturing and entertainment industries, two sectors that rely on a robust IP rights regime.

David Cameron, who led the Conservative- dominated government elected in 2010, appointed Weatherley as IP adviser to the Prime Minister, a new position. "This was an important historic step, enabling progress in many specific areas."

In true parliamentary tradition, Weatherley decided what was necessary was a report to give Cameron and his colleagues. The result was Search Engines, a private discussion paper released in May 2014. He stressed that search engines are not the cause of online piracy, but that data showed that they play an important role in inadvertently guiding consumers towards illegal content and are well placed to be part of the solution.

"My first report recommended that the Internet search engines sit down with government and industry to thrash out problems and solutions, and the first such meeting took place, showing that the government was taking the report seriously."

Search Engines was the first of a trilogy of reports. Emboldened by support from Cameron and Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Weatherley published Follow the Money, which addresses the impact of illegal websites profiting from advertising, and Copyright Education and Awareness, which examines IP education and aims to help reinforce the importance of respecting IP and paying a fair price for content.

Weatherley says his business background explains his interest in IP. "As the owner of a company exporting customised products around the world, I built up a knowledge of patents and trade marks. And then I worked in the music and film industries around licensing and rights holders," Weatherley says. "It became a logical step to use this expertise in Parliament."

One of the shortcomings in the prosecution of IP infringement cases was the absence of a coordinated response by the authorities. Weatherley campaigned for the creation of the national Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), which was set up in September 2012.

"Setting up PIPCU signalled a change in tactics that infringers would be tracked down and prosecuted by a specialist team," Weatherley says. "It has brought in other and more specialists as well. It basically just got more serious."

The support of senior politicians also galvanised the bureaucracy. "The Intellectual Property Office has restructured to become much more focused on delivering a robust programme," Weatherley says of Britain's government body responsible for IP policy, educating businesses and consumers about IP rights and responsibilities and supporting IP enforcement as well as granting patents, trade marks and design rights throughout the U.K.

Weatherley says his reports were received by the IPO with some trepidation, as he urged that the IPO coordinate cross-sector IP working groups and awareness programmes reach out to the wider public and set out a strategic outreach plan by the first quarter of 2015, with a cross-industry working group convening quarterly to review its progress. "I think they were a little nervous to start with but now see that [the reports] are there to be constructive and support them."

Weatherley recommends that every country develop a coordinated structure that defends IP rights and prosecutes infringements. "With a variety of agencies all with their own part to play – the IPO, PIPCU, National Crime Agency, the various trading standards organisations and legislators – the task seems almost too daunting," he observes. The solution, he adds, is a "dedicated IP tsar" or coordinator. "Without one, coordination is almost impossible. I would recommend every nation appoint one as soon as possible."

Once coordinated, IP protection can be a basically three-pronged approach, Weatherley recommends. "There is no one solution to piracy – it involves a combination of education, carrot and stick," he says, "and then on top of that there are further disruption measures such as search engine support and follow-the-money initiatives."

However, Weatherley acknowledges that education and awareness campaigns have had very limited impact. "The big challenge of the future is in how we deliver a meaningful message on respect for IP," he says. "It's a huge task with little immediate tangible gain."

The carrots, he says, involve creative industries changing the way they make products available to ensure that consumers can easily access content legally. "Proponents of piracy say downloading content legally is too complicated," says Weatherley. "Industry, therefore, needs to find innovative ways to ensure that content is easily available and in so doing make piracy a less attractive option." New, workable solutions that Weatherley welcomes include the film industry's multi-format licence option for home use. "Industry must step up and provide alternatives that are attractive to consumers – they can't just keep insisting on getting the stick out," he says. "We need to start embracing solutions like Spotify and Bloom.fm, both of which have a one-off licensing model, which is proving popular," he says.

When the sticks are deployed, Weatherley says, they should be used proportionately. They can be directed partially at end-user infringers, but much of the heavy artillery should be aimed at upstream providers of infringing content. "Before any punitive action can be taken, we do need society to be on the side that piracy is wrong as a general concept," he says. "Only then can we think about punishment for offenders."

Weatherley stepped down as Cameron's IP adviser in October 2014 and is not seeking reelection to parliament next year. However, he hopes he will continue the IP rights fight outside the House of Commons. "I remain available to advise and support in any capacity industry or government would like me to," he says. "The difference will be that I will need to be asked formally to be involved in projects, rather than initiate debate as I do now."

   

Discussion Papers by Mike Weatherley, MP

Monday, 03 November 2014

During the CASBAA Convention 2014, Mike Weatherley MP, Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade, UK Parliament and Former Intellectual Property Advisor to the Prime Minister was featured in an In Conversation session discussing copyright protection. As the Intellectual Property Adviser to the UK Prime Minister, Weatherley is charged with leading the British government's efforts at fighting piracy and raising awareness of IPR. Formerly the Vice President (Europe) for the Motion Picture Licensing Company, Weatherley is bringing his media industry experience to bear on the piracy problem, raising awareness in innovative ways. To find out more about his viewpoints and recommendations, download a series of discussion papers drafted by Weatherly.

Read an article on Weatherley's appearance "Creating a Front Line to Fight Battle for Intellectual Property"

Download ‘Follow The Money’: Financial Options To Assist In The Battle Against Online IP Piracy
Download Search engines and Piracy
Download Copyright Education and Awareness

   

Annual Submission on Intellectual Property in Broadcasting

Monday, 10 February 2014

As in past years, CASBAA gave its views to the US Trade Representative as that organization began its annual review of intellectual property policies and practices around the world. Most of the situations in CASBAA's Asian markets have not radically changed, though the rise of online piracy is a growing concern as the region's broadband networks are built out. The submission expresses grave concern about development and export of Android-based pirate "black boxes" that make available whole bouquets of pay-TV programming, usually streamed from China to other markets in the region. On the good news side, it lauds the Indian government for its cable digitization policy, and notes that the Vietnamese government's liberalization of its pay-TV regulations in May 2013 has resulted in a smooth market situation there.

Read here

   

Broadcasters’ Retransmission Rights Affirmed by EU Court

Thursday, 21 March 2013

In a landmark verdict delivered in early March, the European Court of Justice issued a very strong decision in support of the rights of broadcasters to control simultaneous relay (on the internet or otherwise) of their signals.   CASBAA member ITV was one of the plaintiffs, and law firm Olswang acted for them.  Under the ECJ decision, many third-party internet relay services and “catchup” TV services will be considered to violate broadcasters’ copyrights -- even where (i) the subscribers to the service could otherwise lawfully have received the broadcast on their television receivers; and (ii) the service may or may not be profit-making or competing with the original broadcaster.   See an article and read the decision here.

   

Briefing Paper on the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

Tuesday, 05 June 2012

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) has produced a comprehensive Q & A paper to dispel common myths about the draft WIPO Broadcasting Treaty.   ABU and CASBAA are pushing for the July 2012 meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) to reach consensus on calling a Diplomatic Conference to move forward on the treaty, on the basis of a new draft proposed last year by Mexico and South Africa.  

Download the briefing paper here.

   

Annual USTR Review of Intellectual Property Practices

Thursday, 09 February 2012

CASBAA’s 2012 submission to the US Trade Representative says Indian progress toward cable digitization is “a major advance towards cleaning up” the massive underdeclaration pervading India’s cable TV market.  If addressable digitization in India remains on track, CASBAA said, USTR should consider next year removing India from its IPR “Priority Watch List.”    Other Asian markets are not doing so well; the CASBAA submission noted continuing problems with signal theft by rogue cable operators in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as mysterious gaps in Taiwan cable declarations and payments.  Sadly, it also noted that things are not much improving in China’s huge market, which “has become an Asian center for pay-TV piracy.”

The CASBAA submission to USTR can be downloaded here.

   

CASBAA Offers Views on Pay-TV Piracy

Thursday, 17 February 2011

As part of its annual review of various countries’ intellectual property policies and practices, the USTR asked for information.  CASBAA made a submission noting that protection for intellectual property in the broadcasting business remains unacceptably weak in certain Asian countries, and especially in Thailand and the Philippines, where commercial-scale piracy of entire content bouquets content is rife in the cable TV business, and intellectual property laws and treaties are unenforced.  CASBAA also noted growing production of circumvention equipment and services from China as a major problem.  Dowload the submission here.

   

World Broadcasting Unions push WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A coalition of global broadcasting unions (including the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union – ABU) made a strong push to re-start the negotiating process for a Broadcasting Treaty, at the just-concluded semi-annual meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyrights.  The broadcasting organizations told the international gathering that “Adequate (copyright) protection must include effective judicial remedies against digital piracy and other misappropriation of broadcasters’ expertise, resources, and effort….”  In response, the WIPO Committee asked member countries to submit new proposals for treaty language, to be considered at the next meeting in June 2011. For more information please contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

   

CASBAA Tells WIPO Members about Pay-TV Piracy

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

CASBAA participated in a July 12 seminar on copyright protection for broadcasters, organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Government of India held in New Delhi. CASBAA’s Executive Director – India, Anjan Mitra, presented a series of case studies on piracy of pay-TV content in the Asian hemisphere. He joined reps from the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, and other industry executives and government officials in pointing up the urgency of the piracy problem, as WIPO considers a new international treaty to protect the rights of all broadcasters. Download the CASBAA “Case Studies” presentation here.

   

World Broadcasting Unions urge WIPO to move forward with new treaty to protect Broadcasters’ Rights

Monday, 01 March 2010

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) has provided an update on discussions at the December 2009 meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCRR). Broadcasting Unions from around the world united at that meeting to urge WIPO to move forward on the much-delayed Broadcasting Treaty. A report on the discussions (courtesy of the ABU) can be found here. The World Broadcasting Unions also distributed a brochure, explaining to WIPO delegates why a treaty is needed, and refuting common misconceptions propagated by digital content activists. Download a copy of the brochure here.

   

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