The Government today invited views on the role a 'digital rights agency' should play in protecting and promoting the legal use of copyright content online, and how industry, consumer groups and government can work together to create an environment where investment in creativity is rewarded.
Creators, commercial rights-holders and consumer groups are all asked to respond to a discussion paper exploring the potential benefits of a new agency and the impact it would have in combating unlawful online file-sharing and piracy.
Minister of State for Intellectual Property, David Lammy said:
"A properly worked out rights agency could be a real step forward. We can't have a system where even net-surfing 12 year olds have to understand copyright in order to keep themselves and their parents safe within the law.
"The real prize here is a rights agency that sorts out the complexities that keep consumers on the right side of the law, and ensure artists get properly paid.
"We need to make it easier for consumers to do the right thing. The internet has become an integral part of daily life. You shouldn't need to be an underwriter to take out an insurance policy, and you shouldn't need legal training to surf the web."
Minister for Technology, Communications and Broadcasting, Stephen Carter, said:
"Today we have published proposals in the form of a Straw Man on digital rights. That Straw Man could be torched, tolerated or a touchstone for the start point of constructive debate and design. I for one hope it is the latter."
Key issues raised in the discussion paper published by the Intellectual Property Office today include:
* How to educate and change consumer behaviour towards copyright material;
* How to support industry efforts in developing new and attractive legal ways for consumers to access content
* How to support legislation to address consumer activity that breaches civil copyright law and how to tackle persistent infringement;
* How to enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators;
* Whether or not the Agency should be an independent industry body with back-up legal powers held by Ofcom
* How such an agency can be funded
All these issues will be publicly addressed in a discussion forum later this spring but comments are welcome before then.
The concept of a 'digital rights agency' was initially recommended in the Digital Britain Interim report, published at the end of January. The report represents an ambitious and strategic plan to accelerate growth in the digital industries and cement the UK's position as a world leader for innovation, investment and quality.