The creative industries are tackling illegal downloading through a government-backed, multi-million pound education and TV advertising campaign.
The campaign, called "Get it Right from a Genuine Site", asks the public to "think twice" about where they are getting their entertainment from. It was devised by creative industries alliance Creative Content UK (CCUK) and aims to promote respect for the creative industries - a key growth area for the UK economy - in order to see it flourish.
It is the first time that content creators from the worlds of film, TV, music, games and books have, with the support of government as well as trade unions and retailers, come together with internet service providers to reduce copyright infringement.
The project is two-fold. First, it will benefit consumers by directing them to safe and secure sources of content. Second, after the campaign has launched, a subscriber alerts programme will kick in early next year notifying bill-payers if illegal content is being shared through their internet connection. The latter is a partnership between the UK's four main internet suppliers -ISPs - BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media.
Altogether the UK government is contributing £3.5m in funding over three years towards the education awareness component of the campaign. In addition to this, media owners across the creative industries are expected to support the education campaign through gifted space and other in-kind contributions.
MP Hon Jon Whittingdale, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said: "Copyright is the bedrock of the creative industries. I am delighted that rights holders and internet companies have come together under the banner of Creative Content UK to educate consumers about both the need to properly reward creativity and the threat that online piracy poses."
In contrast to the the Hollywood-funded "You Wouldn't Steal" anti-piracy campaign, the "Get it Right from a Genuine Site" campaign adopts a different tone aimed at engaging with younger consumers in particular. It features a television advert, encouraging consumers to see themselves as "investors" in a creative process, encouraging them to make "the right choices". It features one character who, using his device to access genuine content, sees cinemas, music and games outlets thrive, mirrored by another who, using dodgy sites, sees the creative industries crumble to away to nothing.
Richard Mollet, chief executive of the PA, has been involved in the campaign at various steps along the way, helping to bring publishing and bookselling audiences to it by facilitating conversations between CCUK and other bodies such as booksellers and the Association of Authors Agents.
Mollet said: "I hope [it will be effective]. In so far as one can tell, all the market research that has been done in tackling copyright infringement tells us that it’s this positive approach that works the best. The film industry in recent years has been doing a lot of work in this area and they have found that when you have campaigns like ‘Moments worth paying for' or the ‘Thank you for watching campaigns’, they elicit a more favourable and successful response than if you go back a number of years when some of the messaging was a bit stronger - that’s generally thought not to be the way to do these campaigns. And hence we’re seeing a much more positive approach, really trying to engage the consumer in this debate that unless you pay it’s the only way to create a successful digital economy. That’s the message CCUK is delivering."
Mollet referred to the consumer-facing educational campaign as "the balance" to what will be a stronger enforcement message, brought about by the targeted campaign of notifications to infringing subscribers early next year.
While impressed by the scale of the campaign, expert Thomas Brown, director of strategy and marketing at CIM, said: "It may be that social media and experiential events at a local level may in fact deliver the real change needed."
“It’s positive to see industry and government coming together to tackle the issue of illegal downloading, and having tried a more threatening angle in the past, the new campaign is more carrot than stick in its approach," he said. "Instead of chastising the audience, it instead promotes the positives of legal downloading and the benefits this can bring. In daily lives, we can all relate to the amount of content we consume at home, in work and on the move."
However, he added: "...But it is a big leap to take from watching this to changing behaviour. What we don’t see in the advert are the struggling artists, writers and performers affected by something many people believe is ‘not that bad’."
"The nature of the campaign means that social and digital channels are vital in reaching the target audience with strong community management and tapping into trending conversations."
The campaign will run online, across digital, OHH, in print, on radio and in cinemas over the coming weeks and months.
Alongside the animated film, CCUK also launched a multi-city street art project in Birmingham with the unveiling of a six-storey high spray-painted artwork. Giant murals in at least five cities across the UK will be revealed throughout December to celebrate "the cultural history and the current diversity of the creative industries within each region", extending to Cardiff, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Edinburgh. Targeting young people in particular, Brown said this "particularly engaging" aspect of the project: "may just begin to inform change".
A spokesperson for Weber Shandwick, on behalf of CCUK, said the book trade could get involved with the campaign by helping to champion the message. "If all creative industries promote the same message simultaneously, they will all benefit from the collective amplification of this message," she said.
Nick Bottomley of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, who provisionally agreed to assist CCUK in a video to raise awareness for the campaign, added: "[Copyright] is critically important to every element of our industry - the whole industry functions on everyone getting paid for their effort in the process of getting a book to market. From the moment an author comes up with an idea and starts putting pen to paper, it’s based on a collaboration and the fundamental principles of copyright that underpin it. As soon as people start passing things around freely, it removes the principle behind the whole business."