The House of Lords report into the future of the UK film industry has recommended raising the level of tax relief available to low-budget films and called for camcording to be made illegal.
The report, published today (January 25), described the decision not to legislate against camcording in the Digital Economy Bill as a “glaring omission”.
Lord Fowler, chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, which also looked into the future of the UK TV industry, said: “One of the greatest concerns put to us was the issue of piracy - part of which is dealt with in the Digital Economy Bill now before the Lords. The glaring omission is camcorder crime when new films are recorded at the cinema by camcorder, and then sold as DVDs.
“There is no legitimate issue of freedom here. It is theft which ultimately does great damage to the industry and those working in it. We believe that we should follow the example of most other countries in Europe and make it a criminal offence.”
According to research from the Motion Picture Association, 90% of the first unauthorised versions of films can be traced back to camcording. At present, cinema operators can only eject people caught with cameras but they cannot confiscate equipment. A move to make it an criminal offence would bring the UK in line with the US and Europe, where is it already against the law.
Meanwhile, the report also called for the level of tax relief on UK films with a budget of less than $8.1m (£5m) to be raised from 20% to 30% to help independent British film-makers to fund their productions. The committee added that it was disappointed by the 15% reduction in the UK Film Council’s funding, which will be spread over three years in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics, but said it highlighted that the UKFC was too reliant on lottery funding.
The report noted that one of the UK film industry’s key strengthes was its highly-skilled workforce and called for an improvement in training for the film industry to make sure this is maintained. It said training had become “patchy” and underfunded as a result of the economic downturn.
It also called for a partial privatisation of BBC Worldwide, the public service broadcaster’s commercial arm, to allow it to become a major global brand for distributing British TV content.