Jeremy Hunt, Conservative Shadow Secretary for Culture, has promised to introduce legislation totackle piracy if the Tories are elected next year.

He made the comments during an interview with UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward at the Digital Heat conference yesterday (April 23).

Hunt said that the problem of online piracy had to be solved. He added: “We have to have a market where the creators are able to be fully rewarded for their content.”

He called on the film industry to look for solutions to piracy and to embrace new business models. “We have to embrace the future and new business models. We want the movie industry to flourish and thrive. It’s not in the consumers interests to allow unfettered piracy.”

He also highlighted the need to look to the music industry for a wake up call. “When you deconstruct what happened to the music industry, you get clues.”

Meanwhile, Michael Gubbins, the former editor of Screen International, chaired a Q&A session with a five-strong panel, which comprised:

  • Stephen Garrett, executive chairman of production company Kudos
  • Andrew Keyte, chief executive of video-on-demand site Film Flex
  • Simon Morris, marketing director, LoveFilm, the online DVD rental service
  • Jonathan Lewis, head of digital media at UK TV channel, Five
  • Steve Purdham, chief executive of music streaming and downloading services, We 7

Garrett said ISPs should play a more active role in dealing with illegal content or they should face legislation.

“ISPs have a hugely important role to play as the conduit through which piracy takes place,” he said. “If the ISPs are not going to make life difficult [for the pirates] then they need legislative pressure to do so.”

However, Five’s Lewis argued that the film industry should take responsibility for consumers turning to illegal content. “Businesses not reacting to consumers kill the business, not the pirates. We have to look at the prices.”

Keyte added that illegal content providers have “filled a vacuum” caused by the high pricing of legitimate content. He said that new business models needed to be created through partnerships between content providers, retailer and ISPs.