Why Safeguard Copyright

We value and safeguard copyright because it is the bedrock of our creative industries.

Digital media technologies have empowered us greatly as citizens and consumers – providing on-demand access to a wealth of entertainment and easy ways to stay connected to friends and family.

While creators of entertainment generally want their works to be available on the most widespread possible basis, there must be ways to extract value from such transactions so that creators may lead ‘a dignified economic existence’ (Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organisation).

Works of entertainment – enriching all our lives – are automatically protected by copyright.

See for yourself the amazing
cultural legacy of films made in Britain:

Copyright is the exclusive, assignable legal right of creators to market their own work, for a fixed number of years. A form of intellectual property rights, the very point of copyright is to enable people in the creative industries to be rewarded for what they do.

Films are normally brought to market, on behalf of creators and producers, by dedicated professional distributors. Explore how film distribution, licensing and marketing works here .

Copyright dates back to the 18th century. It has served our society well.

Over many decades of seismic developments in media and technology, our copyright system has accommodated vast changes in how films are distributed and consumed. The evolution is on-going at ever faster rates.

Today’s audiences enjoy more digital entertainment choices, with more on-demand access to more content on more platforms and formats, than ever before.

While the ever-expanding media landscape empowers creativity and cultural diversity, the bedrock of that landscape remains copyright. The UK’s film and cinema industries – key components of the whole creative industries – prosper because of it.

Tackling individuals and groups that deliberately acquire copyright-infringing content – in particular those who seek to do so by making copies in UK cinemas – must remain a high priority for FDA and our partners.

The UK’s film, TV and video industries ‘lose £500 million a year’ due to copyright theft. This equates to a total economic loss to the UK economy of £1.2 billion.

Source: Ipsos-MORI 2011 report on copyright theft

The risk: Illegal recording in cinemas

Around the world, most pirated copies of films are sourced in cinemas – via ‘camcording’.

Individuals use compact digital devices, including smartphones, to record video and/or audio directly from cinemas.

The stolen content may be distributed internationally online, or used to press counterfeit discs for sale worldwide. Online ‘release groups’ – of people who acquire pirated copies from thieves recording illegally in cinemas – are often the first source of piracy; they seek kudos as well as revenue from being first.

Copies of illegally recorded films are also acquired by organised crime networks – typically operating for profit across multiple illegal activities.

At a time of ever more UK-first as well as global ‘day & date’ (simultaneous) film releasing, the UK is particularly vulnerable to attempted illegal recordings. The audio-only theft of English-language film soundtracks, for example, is very challenging to prevent.

Film distributors are deeply committed to safeguarding the rights of the creators of the films they release to audiences. The focus of the FCPA’s work is to stop illegal copies of films leaking out from the UK in the first place.

By protecting copyright, not only are creators’ rights upheld, but importantly too the industry’s own capacity to reinvest, and develop new projects and new talent, is enhanced. The UK is one of the world’s leading markets for filmed entertainment.

For more than 10 years, Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) fully funded a content protection programme on behalf of the UK cinema sector. It was outsourced to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

As that programme developed, the number of ‘cammed’ copies of films known to be stolen in the UK fell dramatically – a successful track record which stake-holders are eager to maintain in future.

In 2016, in partnership with other bodies who share our goal of better safeguarding films, FDA was pleased to launch our dedicated new initiative, Film Content Protection Agency.

With 1% of the world’s population, the UK accounts for 5% of the world’s cinema box-office receipts.

Source: comScore 2016

What’s ultimately at stake?
Jobs, tax revenues, the many economic and cultural contributions of UK film

In 2014, the UK film distribution sector generated £1,670 million in direct economic Gross Value Added (GVA); 4,400 full-time equivalents (FTEs) of direct employment; and an estimated £262 million in export revenue for the UK economy.

In addition, the distribution sector has significant multiplier effects, which yielded a further 14,500 FTEs of employment and £1,047 million in GVA in 2014.

The sector’s economic activity, through its direct and indirect effects combined, yielded an estimated £410 million in tax revenue for the UK government.

Source: Saffery Champness/Nordicity for FDA
(data collected from ONS, Companies House and elsewhere)

In 2014 the overall GVA of the Creative Industries was £84.1 billion, accounting for 5.2% of the UK economy. The sector sustained and supported 1.8 million jobs.

Source: DCMS 2016