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Mr. Gardiner: I have been trying to interpret clause 5, which deals with forfeiture, but I am in some difficulty. It states:

meaning for the purpose of forfeiture—that such an offence has been committed in relation to any infringing copies or articles if it is satisfied that an offence has been committed in relation to any infringing copies or articles "which are representative of" the infringing copies or articles. I do not understand why the court can infer that forfeiture applies if such items are only representative of the infringing copies. Will the hon. Gentleman clarify that?

Dr. Cable: I do not think that I can clarify it to the hon. Gentleman's satisfaction. To his credit, he has immersed himself in the detail of the Bill, and I honestly cannot answer his technical question. However, if the Bill goes into Committee, I undertake to address his intelligent and helpful point, which he has clearly thought through. If necessary, amendments would have to be tabled to deal with any anxieties that he may have. I respect the point that he made.

To conclude, I hope that the House accepts that the Bill is a useful and practical piece of legislation to deal with a genuine problem. I hope that I will have leave to take it into Committee.

1.52 pm

Mr. Chris Bryant (Rhondda): For two years, I worked for the BBC as head of European affairs, and spent most of my time dealing with the European copyright directive.

23 Nov 2001 : Column 632

I am therefore an amateurish expert on copyright, particularly its application to broadcast media. I am sure that in the next year we shall look at incorporation of the copyright directive in United Kingdom law, so the Bill is particularly useful and timely. By its nature, copyright is a creature of legislation. Before 1709, there was no such concept as copyright in UK law other than the right given to publishers, as opposed to authors, for their books not to be copied by other people. In 1709, the Statute of Anne gave copyright to the author, rather than the publisher; that copyright applied to the work, rather than the book itself.

The Bill is important. The advent of the computer or, for that matter, that of the photocopier in, I think, 1949, has made it far easier for people to copy and the general public to get used to copying without considering that they might be stealing from somebody else. If that is the case, it is all the more important to give stronger teeth to the law that provides back-up and essential support to copyright owners.

Mr. Gardiner: Is my hon. Friend aware that each year many children go into music exams, play their pieces, and are told by the examiners at the end that they will not receive any mark because they have used copyright music? The entire examination is invalidated. It is a great testimony to the boards of music that they take so seriously the infringement of the copyright of the music publishers that they refuse to issue a grade to the student, who must resit the exam at a subsequent date.

Mr. Bryant: I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I was not aware of the recondite matter of music examinations. I never got very far with my cello lessons.

My hon. Friend's remarks help to underline the fact that in any delineation of copyright, the private, economic and moral rights that adhere to the copyright holder, and the criminal sanctions that apply to those who infringe copyright, it is important for us to bear in mind the rights-holder's interests and to allow fair dealing exemptions, as has been the practice in British common law.

For example, much of the discussion on the continent in recent years has been about whether, when one is filming for the news outside the Lloyd's building, there should be an exemption for the copyright building, which is shown on the news. In other countries in Europe, there is no exemption for such buildings, and in theory, the newscaster must get permission from the copyright owner—the architect who designed the building—before it can be shown on the news. Most of us in this country would consider that a rather foolish way to proceed.

The concept of copyright in English common law is very different from the droit d'auteur under the French Napoleonic code, which affects most of the rest of European law on the matter. We need strong sanctions in this country, which has founded most of its industrial success over the past 250 years on the ability to create new ideas, patent them, take them forward into the marketplace and build financial value out of creativity. That is why I welcome the Bill.

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Already, in some of the press coverage of the Bill and in television discussions about it, it has come across strongly that the process of protecting the rights of copyright and patent owners needs to be strengthened, and that the process of copying and the buying of cheap goods from a street stall on a Friday afternoon—rip-off or fake goods—is not in anyone's interest, other than the thieves. The Bill will play an important role in transforming public perceptions about rights-holders.

There are many rights-holders who still have a complicated relationship to copyright. I shall give a small example. A designer of theatre sets would usually keep the copyright for ever. For instance, the designer of the set for "Les Miserables"—however one wants to pronounce that—

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire): The Glums.

Mr. Bryant: I thank the hon. Gentleman.

The set designer has retained his copyright throughout, and made a significant amount of money. That is not true of rights-holders who provide sets for television programmes.

There are many areas in which copyright still has to be reformed and in respect of which we must consider more closely the process whereby an individual earns his money. In the end, that is what we are talking about: people spending often vast amounts of money, time, and creative and physical energy to produce ideas that can be brought to a market. Stealing that intellectual property should be a crime that receives the full sanction of the law. The legal sanctions that are currently available are too limited—the problem that the Bill would help to remedy—and are difficult to impose, for the simple reason that it is hard for the police and relevant authorities to pursue people who are infringing the copyright of others.

I should like to make one final point that is important in terms of the public perception of what is happening. People should not start to worry about suddenly being unable to record a television programme that is broadcast on a Monday and then watch it on a Wednesday. The copyright directive, which we will doubtless incorporate into law in the next 12 to 18 months, and also other provisions in current UK law, make it clear that there should be a fair-dealing exemption, just as there are exemptions for research, private study, the reporting of current events and so on. It is important that fair-dealing exemptions remain in place and that we do not take those rights for granted. We must not only pursue them, but ensure that those who have brought to the world their great ideas and imaginative creations are given an opportunity to earn a decent crust from doing so.

I should add that it is, in many ways, no surprise that Trollope said that if one takes away from English authors their copyright, one takes away from England its authors. That is true of every single one of the industries that are affected by patent and copyright law. If one takes away the sanctions that they require and which the Bill would enhance, one takes away their opportunity to earn an honest crust.

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2.2 pm

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire): It is a great pleasure to make a brief contribution to the debate and to see in the Chamber the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller), who promoted a similar Bill in the previous Parliament.

I entirely agree with everything that has been said so far. I rise to speak because my constituency is the home of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association, which is situated in the village of Offenham. I have had regular correspondence with the association over the years. It has been lobbying actively for the introduction of a Bill such as this, so it is a pleasure briefly to express my support in the House.

We are told that the Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy estimates that UK industry loses almost £9 billion a year—a figure that has been mentioned—at a cost to the Treasury of £1.5 billion in receipts. This is, therefore, a private Member's Bill that seems not to spend money for the Government, but to raise it, which is unusual. A third of the losses to which I have referred occur in the interactive leisure games software industry, at a cost of some £3 billion a year. As the Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy says:

That is absolutely right.

The UK electronic games market, which is of particular interest to me, has recently seen huge growth in the UK. Of course, there is enormous British innovation in that industry, which, I am told, has grown by some 111 per cent. in the past three years—a surprisingly accurate figure. As it costs some £2 million to produce a top-selling interactive programme, one can see how much more growth could occur in that market if the Bill were enacted, so I very much hope that it reaches the statute book.

However, we are considering the interests not only of the industry, but of consumers and the general public. ELSPA, the organisation in my constituency, has said that, in 80 per cent. of the raids that it has carried out in the past year, evidence was found of additional crimes ranging from fraud and drug-running to prostitution and child pornography.

I especially welcome the fact that the Bill matches trademark law, and that infringements will therefore no longer be a low risk option for organised crime. Hon. Members should be pleased about that. The former Royal Ulster Constabulary recently arrested three suspects, who were in possession of thousands of pirate videos and CDs. They believe that the Real IRA used counterfeiting as a major source of funding. The Bill has major, wide implications and I hope that it will reach the statute book as quickly as possible.

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