A group of leading UK trade unions have joined forces with the creative industries in a bid to save thousands of jobs at risk from illegal file-sharing.

The Creative Coalition Campaign has been formed by 16 unions including BECTU, Equity and Pact, and the film, music, TV, publishing and sport industries, through bodies such as the Motion Picture Association and the Premier League.

The group said it wants to protect the 1.8m UK jobs from across the creative supply chain, including production, distribution and marketing from being effected by illegal file-sharing. It adds that it wants to work with Government to support the creative industries so that businesses can grow and create more jobs.

The Creative Coalition Campaign supports Government proposals to tackle digital piracy through technical measures, and “urges” it to press ahead with plans to compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement the measures against repeat offenders. The measures include limited internet access, reducing band width and may include more hardline tactics such as cutting access altogether. The plans, part of the Digital Economy Bill, were outlined by communication minister Stephen Timms last month.

Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, which will oversee the implementation of the plans, recently spoke out on the issue and has acknowledged the size of the threat facing the creative industries. Previous plans, outlined in June’s Digital Britain report, had suggested a softer approach starting with a notification system, resorting to technical measures at a later stage.

In a joint statement to Mandelson, the coalition has called for the government to consider three principles when drafting the Bill.

  • The policy environment for the creative industries should be accorded top priority, especially given the current economic situation and Government’s settled view that the creative sector can drive future growth in the UK economy and the creation of new jobs.
  • The use of technical measures should be recognised as an effective and necessary tool in encouraging the legitimate use of the internet and should be implemented without delay.
  • Measures aimed at changing the behaviour of illegal file-sharers should be graduated and proportionate and accompanied by a fair, fast and effective appeals process.  Litigation against consumers should only be required as a last resort.

Martin Spence, assistant general secretary of media and entertainment union BECTU, said: “The Digital Economy Bill represents a vital opportunity for the Government to save and create jobs as well as ensure that the fans of books, sport, music, film and TV can have online access to their favourite high-quality content in a way that does not harm the people who help create it. The rights of consumers and the rights of workers need to be given equal priority.”