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PRS


from illegal, pirated online content and we all have a role to play. Tere is no single answer, but a series of measures will be required.


Google and other search engines have gone some way to remove terms from their auto-complete functions that previously pointed people to illegal sites. Meanwhile ISPs and content creators need to work together to hamper, flag or remove access to illegal content. Tese measures need not have an impact on the legitimate freedom of the web and we must try to support moves in this direction. We recognise the importance of being sure of a site’s legitimate status before anything is blocked, but we have to do more to protect the value of copyright online. If some of the energy and expense invested by companies towards hampering measures to improve the online market were realigned to supporting the


future existence of creative works, think what we could achieve.


Tere is a real risk if we don’t take steps to protect copyright. We should care, and I know that people do. Te music creators we represent depend on the small royalties or payments they receive from digital services—it’s how they earn a living. Digital delivery is the way we’ll all consume content in the future, through exciting new services that may not even have been thought of yet. But let’s not forget, nothing truly is free. Someone, somewhere, will be paying; someone, somewhere, will be funding. If we lose sight of that we risk losing the content that makes the Internet what it is, that underpins our culture, that gives the UK its identity and ensures that our music, film, books and artistic works are enjoyed the world over.


With the US legislation seemingly dead in the water, we shouldn’t lose sight of the real crux of this debate: the future of the content that we all enjoy. I fear that if it does disappear, it won’t be just for one day. n


Robert Ashcroft is the chief executive of PRS for Music. Contact details are available at www.prsformusic.com


PRS for Music represents the rights of 85,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK. As a not-for-profit organisation it ensures creators are paid whenever their music is played, performed or reproduced.


World Intellectual Property Review January/February 2012


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