Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Motion Picture Association

  The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is a trade association that represents seven major international producers and distributors of films, home entertainment and television programmes.[51] We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Committee's Inquiry on new media and the creative industries. Our member companies are confronting the opportunities and challenges of the digital environment. While increasingly the Member Companies are licensing their works to a broad array of new media platforms, they are also confronting competition from digital piracy.

  Some of the points that we wish to put forward here have already been expressed to a certain extent in the Committee's Inquiry on analogue switch-off (September 2005) and the more recent Parliament All-Party Internet Group's Inquiry on DRM (see attached).

  We shall format this submission following the order of issues identified in the Inquiry notice.

The impact upon creative industries of recent and future developments in digital convergence and media technology

  Technology takes an ever decreasing time to be rolled out on global markets. Innovation has reached such velocity that soon digital, indeed high-definition digital, will be taken for granted. The abundance of recent advances in broadband technology (eg ADSL platforms), home entertainment (eg integrated in-home digital networks), mobile or handheld technology (eg download, streaming or "push" on handhelds), online or Internet services, or wireless communication (eg local wireless, digital terrestrial, etc.), makes one realize the immense potential of new media for commercial deals and partnerships to the benefit of consumers and society in general. Market figures and facts are telling: in 2004 the number of broadband households in Western Europe grew by 69.9%,[52] HD-ready households are expected to exceed 20 million in 2008 and 80 million in 2012,[53] France sold 110,000 digital receivers in the first week following the launch of digital terrestrial television in France;[54] and in October 2005, international content market MIPCOM held "The Mobile TV Screenings and Awards".

The effects upon the various creative industries of unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of creative content, particularly using new technology; and what steps can or should be taken—using new technology, statutory protection or other means—to protect creators

  Beyond market figures, one finds that the technology and the creative industries share a vital interest in content protection and interoperability. Digital technology, no matter how advanced and innovative, will be forsaken by the creative industries if the essential notion of content protection is neglected. Worse than a zero-sum game between both sectors, if the creative industry at all levels fails to be profitable because of the vulnerability of its works on new media platforms, it will lose the necessary resources to invest in the future, or simply disappear.

  To cite but one example, namely that of the illicit exchange of copyrighted material on online platforms in the UK, according to a study by Envisional Ltd. (24 February 2005), "The UK is the largest downloader of online pirate TV programmes in the world" (...) and "[There is a C]urrent worldwide explosion in online TV piracy of which around 18% is occurring in Britain." We are precisely referring to the Inquiry's issue of "unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of creative content", which we like to subdivide into the issues of (1) unauthorised re-transmission of unencrypted digital television signals and (2) the conversion of protected digital broadcast signals to analogue format and back to digital with the result that any content protection enjoyed in the digital space is effectively removed.

  As regards the steps that should be taken to protect creators, the MPA sees great merit in working with all interested parties towards technological interoperable protections. In that respect, the MPA has been actively involved in the work of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB), the goal of which is the harmonious, market-driven development of digital broadcasting. The DVB has notably been devoting important resources to the development of effective Content Protection and Copy Management (CPCM) system. The process is mindful of the importance of fostering an interoperability that does not come at the expense of security. The Interoperability/security equilibrium is one of the core principles of the DVB Project. Of note, the first three elements of the CPCM specification were approved by the DVB Project and published in November 2005. DVB CPCM Reference Model, DVB CPCM Usage State Information and DVB CPCM Abbreviations, Definitions and Terms are in the form of a Bluebook ( for informational purposes and liaison with other interested standards forums.

The extent to which a regulatory environment should be applied to creative content accessed using non-traditional media platforms

  In our opinion, the UK Parliament could play an important role in securing the continued introduction and use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools in the digital marketplace, and hence in the development of new digital media services to the benefit of both consumers and content providers. General interests are at stake (ie a transition to digital and interoperability as well as the creation of cultural products) and public intervention may be eminently necessary, either to provide for compliance with any agreed standards addressing content protection or to address the absence of an agreement on any standards at all (ie a market failure).

  Ad minimum, we would like the regulatory authorities to:

    —  Continue to monitor the impact of the implementation in the UK (and in other countries) of the EU Copyright Directive, notably on rights holders, the marketplace, the copyright exceptions (and its beneficiaries), as well as technological development.

    —  Continue to provide input to the Government relating to the general development of the digital environment.

    —  Encourage and, as deemed appropriate, facilitate the cooperation between content providers, telecom/mobile operators, Internet service providers (ISPs) and other interested stakeholders with a view to clean up a marketplace plagued by rampant piracy and effectively allow legal alternatives to flourish.

    —  Support market efforts to ensure the development of interoperable standards for content protection.

Where the balance should lie between the rights of creators and the expectations of consumers in the context of the BBC's Creative Archive and other developments

  The MPA applauds the application of innovative technology for the licit distribution of content as long it is consistent with copyright and respects rights of others in the works. We take good note of the Creative Archive Licence Group (CALG)'s "use [of] limited DRM" and "watermarking technology" as well as "GEO-IP filtering" restricting availability of the archive to UK citizens. We also note the CALG's clarification that "[peer-to-peer] technology is not illegal. When used for the distribution of legally licensed material, it provides an efficient and cost effective means of sharing and distributing content on the internet".[55]

51   The MPA's members comprise: Buena Vista International, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Releasing International Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox International Corporation, Universal International Films, Inc., Warner Bros. Pictures International, a division of Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. Back

52   European Audiovisual Observatory, Yearbook 2005. Back

53   Screen Digest, p 308, October 2005. Back

54   Screen Digest, p 134, May 2005. Back

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