Matthew Hancock MP, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has underlined his commitment to addressing the transfer of value from creators to digital content platforms.
In one of his first speeches as the newly-appointed Culture Secretary, following a year-long stint as Digital Minister, he said: ‘Imagine there was no James Bond. Imagine their was no Harry Potter. Imagine there was no Imagine by John Lennon. Who can say what cultural brilliance would have been robbed from our nation if artists couldn’t reap the rewards of their creation?’
He continued: ‘Intellectual Property [IP] is vital to encouraging creativity and as a government we are committed to protecting it… We remain fully committed to addressing the transfer of value from the creative industries and closing the value gap that fails to reward our creators.’
Hancock was referring to mounting concerns that some digital content platforms and aggregators are exploiting a loophole in European copyright law that allows them to underpay creators and rightsholders for use of their work, or in some cases, not pay them at all.
Over recent months, the music industry has become increasingly vocal about this growing value gap.
Prominent campaigns and open letters, signed by thousands of artists and songwriters including Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, have been backed by leading industry organisations including PRS for Music, UK Music and the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).
Hancock strove to soothe concerns in his speech this week for the Alliance for Intellectual Property, saying: ‘IP rules may be technical but their importance can’t be overstated…
‘Our [new] Digital Charter is the framework which will develop the policies and frameworks to make the UK the safest and fairest place to be online. We have a good track record on this.’
He closed: ‘Our commitment to IP is unwavering. We will remain an open, confident, forward-looking nation that will be a haven for the brightest creative talent. For that is where this country’s future lies.’
In related news, the government recently confirmed that it will continue to fund the Intellectual Property Crime Unit, helping it to build on its record fighting online counterfeiting and piracy.