On February 4th, the UK Intellectual Property Office published a new five-year plan: the Counter Infringement Strategy 2022-2027. The strategy outlined a pathway of focus and collaboration to successfully address both the supply and demand sides of IP crime and infringement, ensuring the UK remains a world benchmark for the protection and promotion of Intellectual Property. Immediately embracing this call to collaboration, The Industry Trust for IP Awareness held its 2022 Infringement Summit on Tuesday 17th May, hosted by Trust member Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Convening decision makers and leaders from ten organizations, the welcome from BASE Chair and Vice President, Commercial, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Robert Marsh, made it clear that a cross-industry, collective response would play a critical role in the approach to the discussion. Rob reiterated the ongoing focus of BASE which calls out the crucial requirement for a strong regulatory environment to support the visual transactional category and the many broader IP industries powering the UK economy.
Addressing the harms inflicted by piracy, Rob confirmed Sony’s commitment to support active anti-infringement efforts through its membership of The Trust, illustrated by the type of educational messaging that formed part of the release of Peter Rabbit 2, the film that reopened cinemas in spring 2021, post the UK lockdown.
Rob then introduced Chris Mills, Director of Copyright and IP Enforcement at the IPO, and an incredibly important voice for the summit. Chris called attention to the strategic change in the IPO positioning, moving the frame from ‘Enforcement’ to ‘Counter Infringement’, highlighting the need to work together to take a broader approach to piracy, and to stop infringement behaviours before they start. This should complement robust enforcement, which remains crucially important to disrupt and deter piracy.
Speaking to the educational focus of the event, Chris reiterated the anchor of robust and credible data to the work of the IPO, such as the Industry Trust Tracker released and shared with stakeholders by the visual industry annually, in understanding and targeting where the harm and risk of infringement are highest as technological advancement, alongside economic and cultural challenges, continue to evolve.
Chris concluded with the belief that collaboration is a critical aspect of managing infringement, and that sharing data, intelligence, concerns, and success, will provide foundations from which the IPO will execute across a broad range of strategic priorities.
Yasmin Nevard, Senior Insight and Marketing Manager at BASE followed this keynote introduction with a walk-through of the focuses of the day: interrogating the behavioral targeting of current activity, the effectiveness of current messaging, the channels being employed across the group, and as a result, identifying any clear and present gaps in our approach as a collective.
Attendees were challenged to discuss and debate the big question: do we have the power to change infringement behaviours? The outcome was a robust ‘opposition research’ exercise, acknowledging the nimbleness of organised crime, and the sophistication and commercialisation of infringement infrastructures which operate to circumvent the regulatory protections in place to protect creative works, and the (albeit declining) perception that it is a socially acceptable ‘victimless’ crime. However, the counter arguments came with force, demonstrating the breadth of both the approach, will and passion in the room and the anti-infringement community to tackle piracy.
The insights presented across the Summit shared knowledge and understanding from a broad church of invested parties, diving into the public perception of piracy in the UK and Ireland, and the deterrents that cut through most effectively with different audience groups. Device-first marketing strategies were championed to reach younger audiences, as well as creative approaches that involve the power of influence and humour, such as the ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ Creative Content UK campaign, starring TikTok stars Jack Joseph and Stefflon Don. Attendees were walked through the technological developments fueling infringement, from account hacking to the use of cryptocurrency, to the practice of piracy bundling, and the role that ‘Know Your Business Customer’ can play in throwing the spotlight on to the authenticity of platform user profiles.
The Chief Executive of BASE and The Industry Trust, Liz Bales, and Head of Audience Engagement, Sylvia Dick, talked through the latest Trust research and findings, including current infringement statistics, and the variable factors that impact infringement over time. However, the research also spoke to the high value perception audiences have across the film and TV sector and the role that education can play in reducing propensity to infringe and encourage infringers to engage via the premium experience of cinema or the convenience of the multitude of exceptional legal in-home channels. Behavioural science provides many examples of where messaging and education campaigns can influence habits and behaviours before they become ingrained.
Sylvia spoke to the campaigns that the Trust continues to manage and champion to combat piracy in different ways and places. The Trust digital campaign ‘Crimestoppers’ continues to interrupt users in their search journey. The legal discovery and industry owned site FindAnyFilm.com plays a vital role in dispelling consumer confusion, a reason often given for accidental piracy, through its content discovery role. The Moments Worth Paying For campaign returns in in 2022 with The Minions: The Rise of Gru. The campaign continues to deliver incredible reach and spend. Liz also spoke to the recent findings from the April 2022 DEG Roadshow and BASE Screen Forum in London, where the infringement landscape was part of a day dedicated to growth and consumer choice.
The lively group discussions that followed, challenging the participants to draw on the knowledge shared throughout the morning and build a framework of future collaboration, with actions that will flow forwards from the day into definite activity, embodied the spirit of the Summit and the role of The Industry Trust: to gather together and enable discussion from the leading players in the infringement space through events that provoke shared knowledge and deeper understanding, resulting in a collective approach to an infringement industry in the UK and beyond, adapting to the significant technological advances of digital entertainment over the last years.
Thanks was extended to all who attended, including speakers Euan Fordyce, Head of Communications at Sky; James Gardiner, Associate Director of Creative Content UK; Kelly Pereira, Investigations Manager at the Motion Picture Association, and Stephen Cooke, Client Services Director at Manning Gottlieb OMD, and sponsors Sony Pictures Entertainment and the MPA.
Italian anti-infringement enforcement policies were a hot topic at the summit, and so it felt appropriate that Chief Executive of The Industry Trust, Liz Bales, ended the week at the 75th Festival de Cannes, at the invitation of Cinecitta and the MPA, at the Italian Pavilion. The Industry Trust was contributing to the panel ‘The Art of Educating Youth on Respect for Intellectual Property’, alongside Secretary General FAPAV, Frederico Bagnoli Rossi, President and Director General FEDICINE, Estela Artacho Garcia-Moreno, and General Secretary Dutch Copyright Foundation, Paul Solleveld, and hosted by Head of Special Projects MiC-Cinecitta, Roberto Stabile, CEO Cinecitta Nicola Maccanico, and Director of Communications for the MPA, Sabine Henssler, and with a keynote address from Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director, MPA EMEA.
As the actions and takeaways from the Summit are shared with the days’ attendees and Industry Trust members over the coming weeks, the collective response to the IPO report and the spirit of collaboration that exists in the community, that was so apparent on the day of the Summit, promises to ensure that 2022 is a year of bold agenda and action, with a reach and influence that extends further than ever before.
The British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and The Industry Trust remain committed to supporting the IPO where it can lead and convene the conversation with all appropriate stakeholders, with an open door to any impacted or invested parties who would like to contribute to these important conversations and collaborate in future action.