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PROTECTING IP RIGHTS
Protecting Intellectual Property Rights
Mike Weatherley MP, Founder of Rock the House and Film the House
Intellectual property (IP) belongs to anyone who creates anything – be that music, film, design or, well, anything really. All ‘creators’ need to be paid for that idea, otherwise ideas will simply stop happening – if you cannot make a living out of making music for example, that creator will turn to other ways to make a living and we all suffer – both culturally (since potentially great music will not be made) and economically (since employment / revenue / taxes etc) are all lost. IP needs to be protected and cherished for all our sakes.
I launched the Rock the House and Film the House parliamentary competitions as a fun way to ‘educate’ Parliamentarians about the importance of the creative industries to the British economy and how, without protecting Intellectual Property, we are putting important industries and revenue streams in jeopardy. There is often a feeling that these ‘rich’ industries can look after themselves, and anyway, isn’t it too difficult to stop people downloading for free if they want to? Neither are true and we all need to be part of the solution.
The UK is an Intellectual Property rich country: we are an IP-exporting economy, and one of only three countries in the world to do so. Our creative industries, technology businesses and service sectors, plus many others, are all underpinned by intellectual capital. The creative industries contribute a staggering £71.4 billion added gross value every year to our economy, which is one big reason why IP needs to be taken seriously. They help to pay for the services in this country that we all cherish. If we take the wrong approach, national services that we take for granted will have a huge budget shortfall.
IP is now very much consumed online and attitudes to illegal downloading are slowly changing, which has in large part been due to the industry finally offering people what they want. Spotify and Netflix are two great of example of game-changers for both music and film. But the reality is that MUCH more needs to be done to beat piracy – and that needs legislators to understand IP and stand up for the many ways we can nurture and protect our creative industries.
Rock the House and Film the House are now Parliament’s largest competitions and have been one step in a number of initiatives that has significantly raised awareness of the importance of protecting IP rights by primarily engaging young musicians / filmmakers (and the respective industries) with Parliamentarians. How it works: Entrants send their original material to their MP, who ultimately nominates one entrant per competition category from their constituencies. The winners from each constituency then go through to the ‘semi-finals’ which is judged by leading persons from the music and film industries, with the winners being invited to play / show their film on the House of Commons terrace or other high profile location. MPs get to engage with a demographic they do not normally engage with, and musicians / filmmakers the same the other way around. And industry gets a chance to speak to legislators as well. And it’s fun whilst we all learn.
Rock the House and Film the House competitions will not solve piracy on their own. That needs to be addressed via a combination of ‘Education, Carrot and Stick – plus Disruption’ (see my website for details on all these points and for my three reports: Search Engines, ‘Follow the Money’ and Education) and is a huge task which needs society to get behind. What these competitions do is raise the issue for debate – which is the first stage in getting any action implemented.