Anti-piracy campaign aims to win over ‘Generation Y-pay’

After decades of heavy-handed messages warning that watching pirated films and TV shows is a criminal offence, a new anti-piracy campaign aims to win over the “Generation Y-pay?” of internet users by reminding them that legal downloading supports their favourite actors and programmes.

The campaign, which comes as the government looks to push through measures to crack down on illegal downloaders, is being supported by celebrities including Dominic West, star of The Wire, former EastEnders actor Tamzin Outhwaite and Strictly Come Dancing‘s Matt Di Angelo.

The campaign will replace the “Piracy is a crime” trailers at the start of millions of DVDs rented or sold each year that likened the activity to stealing a car, handbag or TV set and threatened jail or imprisonment.

Such trailers will be phased out in favour of a quirky animation that ends with a giant “Thank You” logo. In November, a new series of trailers, pushing the positive message “You Make the Movies”, will appear in cinemas across the UK before the main feature presentation.

The new approach, unveiled today, fronted by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star Nick Moran, is born out of research that shows the film and TV industry needs to offer some “carrot” to go with the “stick” to change the attitude of the web generation. The Industry Trust for IP Awareness (Itipa) says the problem is that 16-to-34-year-olds, the so-called Generation Y, has an attitude to online content that it sums up as “Generation Y-pay?”

A survey has shown that while 74% of 16-to-34-year-olds agree that paying to rent or see films in daily life is right and proper, just 39% think they should pay for the same content when they are viewing the content on the internet.

The campaign appeals to young people by promoting the idea that making positive, legal choices ensures their favourite shows and actors stay on screen.

“With the digital revolution set to open up access to more unauthorised film and TV content, it is going to be more important than ever for people to understand the positive connection they have to the British creative industries, such as film and TV,” said Liz Bales, the director general of the Itipa. “Our industry must share responsibility for showing the public the positive role they play.

“Film and TV is the industry that we as a nation are most proud of, the challenge is that Generation Y-pay underestimates how vital they are to funding future films and TV shows. They don’t realise that without them [buying legal products] great British film and TV couldn’t get made,” Bales added.

The campaign, called Connected to British Film and TV, includes a week of advertorials in the Sun newspaper and a website to get film and TV fans to pledge their support and find out what industry activity is happening in their local area.

The timing of the campaign follows the business secretary Lord Mandelson’s announcement of new laws to cut off, or at least significantly slow, the internet connections of those who are found to be illegally filesharing.

The proposals, revealed last month, had previously been rejected as a step too far in Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report in June.

The government aims to cut illegal filesharing by 70% to 80% in the next few years, with the solution offered by Carter, who has since left the government, only going as far as recommending that pirates should receive letters warning them their activities were illegal and could leave them open to prosecution.

“I want to be clear this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, a flash in the pan ad campaign following what [Peter] Mandelson has said,” Bales said. “We have had a significant, long-running campaign and this is the latest stage in that.”

Late last week, David Lammy, the intellectual property minister, reminded the entertainment industry that the government expected its actions to be counterbalanced by such campaigns.

Speaking to the Motion Picture Association of America in Washington, Lammy told the audience: “Many otherwise law-abiding people believe they are causing no harm when they buy or download illegal copyright goods. They think that creators and business have already been well paid for their work. I want us to reach out to those people.”

The government’s proposals are being hammered into shape in the form of a digital economy Bill, which is intended to be officially unveiled during the Queen’s Speech in mid-November.

However, the controversial nature of some proposals, particularly ahead of next year’s general election, and the lack of parliamentary time, have led some to question how much of the Bill will make it through Parliament. –

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