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AOP gives evidence to DCMS committee

Content publishers and Government should work together to raise public awareness of the growing threats from illegal or unauthorised use of copyright works, according to Andrew Yeates, intellectual property advisor to the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) in evidence to an influential committee of MPs chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale.

Called to give oral evidence on behalf of AOP to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the first part of the fourth session of its inquiry into 'new media and the creative industries', Yeates argued that although there was better awareness about piracy among the public than was present five years ago due to the concerted efforts of industry and Government, more work was needed in certain areas.

He stressed that the existing intellectual property safeguards are essential for ensuring that fair reward is given to those who create original works, emphasising that digital rights management was as much about promoting access to content as much as preventing access. He argued that there was a need to promote understanding among young people that they themselves could ‘‘own” intellectual property.

In response to a question from Labour MP Janet Anderson on the scale of unauthorised copying in the new media industry, Yeates said while online piracy was not currently as large a concern as the music industry there was a growing concern over the unauthorised copying of e-books in countries such as China and India.

He suggested that the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) should be more involved in supporting projects to educate the public on the issue. He highlighted the good work being undertaken by industry to imporve education and awareness of the value on intellectual property and urged the Committee to support current efforts to involve the CBI in this work. He also referred to the helpful work undertaken by the Patent Office in the field including the production and distribution of its "Think Kit" for use in secondary schools.

Asked about AOP’s view on the impact of the BBC’s new media activities on the commercial sector, Yeates observed that it would be interesting to see how the revised public service test would work for the BBC. He added that there must be ample opportunities for review. He noted that BBC is a member of AOP.

In April AOP responded to the Government's official review of intellectual property, set up by the Treasury and headed by Andrew Gowers, former editor of the Financial Times. The Gowers Review called for evidence earlier this year and the deadline for the first round of evidence was 21 April.

In its response, AOP welcomed the Government’s recognition that intellectual property is crucial for the success of knowledge-based industries such as publishing, with the response reflecting concerns on the way in which copyright applies to the work of the online publishing sector.

Santha Rasaiah and Catherine Courtney from the Newspaper Society, and Angela Mills Wade from the British Internet Publishers' Alliance also gave evidence to the committee.

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