Townshend, Daltrey, Plant and May call for push on piracy
Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant and Brian May have joined other big names in the British music industry to press for stronger sanctions over copyright theft.
They want Prime Minister David Cameron to enforce the 2010 Digital Economy Act, which allows for persistent pirates to have their internet connections cut.
In a letter to Downing Street published in the Guardian, the group say: “As the world’s focus turns to Britain, there is an opportunity to stimulate growth in sectors where Britain has a competitive edge. Our creative industries represent one such sector, which creates jobs at twice the speed of the rest of the economy.
“As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, Britain is well-positioned to increase its exports in the digital age.
“We can only realise this potential if we have a strong domestic copyright framework, so that creative industries can earn a fair return on their huge investments creating original content. Illegal activity online must be pushed to the margins. This will benefit consumers, giving confidence they are buying safely online from legal websites.
“The simplest way to ensure this would be to implement the long-overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.
“We are proud of our cultural heritage and believe that we, and our sector, can play a much bigger role in supporting British growth. To continue to create world beating creative content, we need a little bit of help from our friends.”
Co-signatories include Simon Cowell, Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The Digital Economy Act has been criticised in some quarters as an infringement on civil rights, since internet connections could be cut off without trial – meaning citizens could be treated as guilty until proved innocent. It was recently suggested that those accused of piracy would have to pay a fee if they wanted to protest the charge, separate from the cost of going to court, which critics suggest may be in contravention of human rights.
Open Rights Group chief Jim Killock called the law “an utter disgrace” and said it was “an attack on everyone’s right to communicate, work and gain an education.”
Much of the 2010 act has not been implemented due to these concerns; although leading torrent site The Pirate Bay was recently blocked by most UK service providers. Experts have suggested that download figures only dropped for the first few days of the ban, after which persistent users found alternative ways to source material.