UK creative industries and ISPs partner in initiative to promote legal online entertainment

First component to launch will be high-profile consumer awareness and engagement campaign with Government support

Representatives from the UK's creative industries and major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have come together with the support of government to launch Creative Content UK, a ground-breaking new partnership that will boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services and help reduce online copyright infringement.

Creative Content UK will comprise two key components. The first, which will launch before Spring 2015, will be a major multi-media education awareness campaign, led by content creators and part-funded by government, that aims to create wider appreciation of the value and benefits of entertainment content and copyright.

The second component is a subscriber alerts programme that will be co-managed and co-funded by ISPs and content creators and due to begin at a later date.  Participating ISPs will alert and advise subscribers when their accounts are believed to have been used to infringe copyright. Account holders will receive an alert from their ISP, advising them unlawful filesharing may have taken place on their connection and offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of entertainment content.   

Speaking today Business Secretary Vince Cable and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced the Government's support for this initiative and pledged £3.5 million in funding for the education awareness component of the campaign.


The creative industries in the UK are one of our brilliant global success stories. We have unrivalled creativity - from record breaking musicians to box office films - that excite and inspire people all over the world. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules. That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime - but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs.

Vince Cable, Business Secretary

The Creative Sector is a key driver of the UK economy contributing £8m to the UK economy every hour and underpinning over 1.5m jobs.  Copyright is the foundation on which the Creative industries stand and we must ensure it remains strong and continues to support the growth of the sector.  The alert programme shows industry working together to develop solutions which support the long-term health of the UK's creative industries.  It will play a central role in raising awareness of copyright and pointing people toward legal ways to access content and I welcome this effort.

Sajid Javid, Culture Secretary

The initiative has cross party support.


I strongly welcome the partnership between the creative sector and ISPs to work together on the Creative Content UK initiative.  We need to ensure that talented UK creators and digital innovators see a continued financial return from online services for their ideas and efforts.  I hope this initiative will encourage greater uptake of digital services and more responsible use of the Internet to safeguard jobs in the UK and reinforce our position as leaders in world class creativity.

Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Secretary

Creative Content UK founding partners include the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), and the four main internet service providers: BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media with the prospect of other ISPs joining at a later stage.  It also has the backing and support of a broad range of organisations from across the creative community including the BBC; Equity; the Film Distributors’ Association; ITV; the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA); the Musicians’ Union; Pact the Premier League; the Publishers Association; and UK Music.

The campaign will aim to inform and encourage consumers - ranging from the next generation of digital users to 'silver-surfers' - about the huge range of entertainment content that is available from legal and licensed sources; giving them greater confidence when buying and using content online and providing additional guidance about internet safety.

Creative Content UK will operate within the wider context of successful programmes aimed at combating copyright infringement such as the blocking of illegal sites and working with advertisers and payment processors to cut off revenues to such sites.  Full details of the initiative, including its branding and the scope of the education awareness campaign activity will be announced in due course.


It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative. This is just one piece of the overall approach to tackling illegal online infringement and promoting the importance of copyright. This will enable consumers to receive the best possible user experience and sustains the UK’s creative community and economy, incentivising the creation of new movies and other creative content.

Commenting on the announcement of the programme, Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director EMEA of the Motion Picture Association  (MPA)

It's a wonderful time to be a music fan - you can listen to almost any song ever released, instantly, wherever you are. But not everyone is familiar with all the different ways to do this - whether for free or from a paid service - while at the same time making sure the artist is also fairly rewarded.

This landmark initiative marks the first time that entertainment companies, broadband providers and the Government have come together in a major campaign to engage consumers through their passion for music, film, TV and other content and to support them in enjoying it safely and legally online. It should mark a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI

IT is very pleased to be able to support this important announcement today.  The UK has a world-leading creative sector which plays a vital role in promoting the nation’s economic prosperity. 
BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.

John Petter, CEO BT Consumer

As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased to be partnering with the MPA, BPI and other major internet providers to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content. We look forward to working with our partners to provide useful guidance for our customers on the issue and, in doing so, help support Britain’s creative industries.

Lyssa McGowan, Director, Sky Broadband

British consumers benefit from some of the most diverse and exciting creative content. As an ISP, we want to help our customers access that in a safe, legitimate way. That's why we've long been committed to working with rights-holders and Government to ensure we tackle copyright infringement, but in a way that supports our customers. This voluntary agreement, combined with the accompanying consumer awareness campaign, means that customers will have the information they need to make the right choices about how they access content. That's good news for consumers and content owners alike.

Dido Harding, CEO, TalkTalk

We have worked with the creative industry and other broadband providers on this government-backed campaign that will inform our customers about the value of content and help them find compelling, lawful sources online.

Dana Strong, Chief Operating Officer, Virgin Media

Today’s announcement was also welcomed across the creative industries.


IM welcomes this new initiative, which is a positive step for the music industry and consumers alike. The support of government and the ISPs is very welcome as is their acknowledgment of the importance of protecting copyright and intellectual property. We believe that educating music fans about the huge diversity of legal, online services available to them is a highly effective way of tackling piracy and promoting the value of music.

Alison Wenham, Chairman & CEO, AIM (Association of Independent Music)

Through digital inclusion schemes and services like BBC iPlayer and BBC Playlister, the BBC has been introducing audiences to legitimate online services, whether for TV, film or music, and helping to grow the digital content market for the whole sector. We welcome today's awareness-raising agreement, which should help audiences to find great content online in a way that is safe, rewards right holders, funds the production of new content, and supports the important contribution of the creative industries to the UK's cultural life and economy.

James Purnell, Director of Strategy & Digital, BBC

Today’s agreement is fantastic news for workers across the creative industries from actors to lighting engineers to recording artists and many more whose livelihoods depend on copyright. Education is absolutely critical to tackling online copyright infringement, and encouraging greater use of legal services - as opposed to pirate sites - will help ensure that our creative industries continue to provide jobs and growth for years to come.

Christine Payne, General Secretary of Equity and Chair of the Creative Coalition Campaign

Three million people have downloaded one of my tunes from a popular Pirate site. Each person thinks it can’t hurt and that one download won't make a difference. But it really affects all musicians from big bands to underground DJs and it’s beginning to change the quality of music itself. I love that people like the tune, but every musician I know would really appreciate it if those people who want music for free would go on Spotify with Ads, or some such instead.  If this initiative teaches fans to do that, it would really help give a bit back by rewarding the players not the pirates for the music they enjoy.

Crispin Hunt, Musician and Songwriter/Producer and Co-CEO the Featured Artist Coalition

Educating consumers of all ages about the value of intellectual property is an essential part of the battle against online piracy. I have long argued that dissuading people from watching film content from illegal sites will only be possible when that content is available legally online in ways consumers want. This initiative from content makers and distributors, with government support, will ensure that everyone knows how to find their favourite films online and won’t be driven to look for them on illegal sites.

Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, President of Film Distributors’ Association

Creative Content UK is an exemplary cross-industry initiative that, with Government endorsement, promises to help give consumers the safe, legitimate and extraordinarily rich internet experience that they deserve.  IFTA’s membership of independent production and distribution companies here in the UK and around the globe has been profoundly affected by copyright infringement and we are pleased to participate on our members’ behalf in the effort to expand awareness of legal online sources of content and to educate consumers to avoid online theft.

Jean Prewitt, President & CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

The UK TV industry is world leading and it is underpinned by copyright protection.   There is a job to do in educating people about the importance of copyright and its role in supporting television in the UK so it is very encouraging that content investors, ISPs and government have come together in this partnership.  This is just the sort of initiative that will help us to ensure that people know about all the ways they can get great content legitimately and to reduce infringement.

Fru Hazlitt, Managing Director, Commercial and Online, ITV

Online piracy puts the livelihoods of musicians at risk and means they are not fairly rewarded for their work.  This campaign will help to raise awareness of all the legal music sites that are available and we hope will encourage the general public to back musicians and buy legally.

John Smith, General Secretary, Musicians’ Union

New digital services are offering consumers unprecedented access to their favourite TV programmes whenever and wherever they want. The move to digital presents a tremendous opportunity for the TV production sector but one that can only be fully realised if consumers use legal services instead of accessing them from pirate sites that contribute nothing to the creators and makers of the original content. Today’s announcement is a welcome step forward that will help ensure the television production sector can continue to thrive in the digital age.

John McVay, Chief Executive, Pact

We welcome this new partnership between government, the creative industries and ISPs to help consumers access their music safely through licensed sites.  Songwriters deserve the right to earn a living from their craft and the vast majority of music lovers would support them in this. Today’s initiative will help reduce inadvertent infringements and help consumers make positive choices about how to enjoy music online, providing a welcome boost to the UK’s important creative sector.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music

Tackling online copyright infringement effectively is a joint enterprise, requiring the involvement of rights holders, internet service providers and government.  It is great that all these parties are now coming together to create a campaign which will make clear the importance of intellectual property to creators and the wider economy, and ensure that the internet delivers, not detracts value from the creative industries.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive, Publishers Association

Intellectual property rights underpin the continued success of the Premier League, allowing our clubs to invest in developing and attracting some of the world’s best players. It also allows the competitive and compelling football our League is renowned for to be played out in safe and welcoming stadiums that are 96% full of passionate and engaged fans.

Tackling online copyright infringement is vital to ensuring this investment in world-class talent and facilities can continue. The united front being shown today by the creative community, the Government and internet service providers on this important issue is a significant step in the right direction. It will benefit every level of the game as well as the fans and participants that sustain English football.

Dan Johnson, Director of Communications, Premier League

Much more effort is needed to educate young people about the digital market they get their music and creative content from.  This three-stage education programme must succeed in encouraging young people to get their content from licensed sites. Those that continue to infringe after being led repeatedly to a legal option will feel the sting of a targeted alert to their household account.  This campaign will inspire and guide young people to instinctively look for legal online content.  We must encourage our young fans to invest in a value chain that pays British creative industries and the talent they invest in.

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music

Contacts for media enquiries

Peter Jones, Lexington Communications, 020 7025 2319, mobile: 07792 531654

Caroline Nagle, Lexington Communications, 020 7025 2327, mobile: 07961 157 388

Notes to Editors

  • The creative industries contribute £71.4 billion towards the UK economy and support 1.71 million jobs  in activities which, crucially, depend on being able to exploit creative content.
  • The following organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding that will underpin the programme announced today: Motion Picture Association, BPI, Sky Broadband, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media.
  • The number and quality of legal online content services available to UK consumers has improved significantly in recent years. Legal services now provide UK consumers with access to: 
    • 20 million individual music tracks
    • more than 38,000 individual films 
    • more than 1.5 million e-books
  • Digital sales of music, video content and games exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2012; 938 million digital music tracks had been sold in the UK by the end of 2012; and total consumer e-book sales rose by 134% in 2012 reaching £216 million.
  • A report commissioned by Ofcom which examined online copyright infringement between May 2012 and May 2013 found that:
    • Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all content consumed online infringed copyright
    • 70% of those surveyed had consumed at least some music for free over a three month period 
    • Almost a third (32 per cent) of all digital film consumed by those surveyed was infringed copyright
    • 85% of those who had downloaded or streamed TV programmes in the past three months did all of it for free
    • 50% of the total of those who downloaded or streamed a film during this period downloaded or streamed all films for free
  • An Ofcom report found there have been 1,077 million illegally downloaded music tracks between May 2012 and May 2013.
  • The MPA is the international trade association working for major companies that invest in, produce, distribute and market film and TV content in the UK. Its member companies include Disney, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Viacom, Universal, and Fox. 
  • The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) – British Recorded Music Industry
    The BPI was formed in 1973 and is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business.  As a trade organisation we promote recorded music in the UK and worldwide and champion the rights and interests of a broad range of members, including hundreds of independent music labels and companies and the UK’s three major record company groups – Sony Music Entertainment UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK.  In 2013 our members accounted for approximately 90% of all recorded music purchased in the UK – the world’s fourth largest music market – as well as 1 in 8 albums sold around the globe.

About PRS for Music

Here for music since 1914, PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 175,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers. Redefining the global standard for music royalties, PRS for Music ensures songwriters and composers are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. 

For 110 years it has grown and protected the rights of the music creator community, paying out royalties with more accuracy, transparency and speed. In 2023, PRS for Music paid out £943.6m in royalties and collected a record £1.08 billion in revenues.

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