Kennedy adds voice to Spain anti-piracy push

IFPI chairman joins French gov't adviser at seminar

MADRID -- Two leading lights in the European fight against digital piracy and illegal P2P file-sharing have thrown their support behind a new Spanish music and movie business campaign to end Spain's black image as the worst piracy offender among the top 10-ranked global markets.

Speaking at a Madrid seminar Thursday, IFPI chairman John Kennedy and French government adviser on digital piracy Dennis Olivennes both said they were confident that Internet service providers and telecom companies would eventually agree to a "legal model," and that the Madrid government will establish a legislative framework to impose an effective ban on digital piracy.

"I cannot believe the French government cares more about French music and creativity than the Spanish government does about Spanish music and creativity," said Kennedy, referring to the plan by president Nicolas Sarkozy to introduce a "three strikes" legislation that would disconnect individual infringers' ISP accounts for habitual piracy.

"Sarkozy said the Internet must not be a high-tech Wild West, but he said it for the French music and film industries, not for John Kennedy and the IFPI," Kennedy said.

"It is the homegrown emerging content industry that needs protection, not Hollywood. I call on Spain not to let India and China wake up to this fact while Spain takes no action," he added.

Kennedy recalled that 95% of tracks downloaded are illegal, and 80% of these illegal tracks are delivered via P2P file-sharing. "Research shows file-sharing damages sales - nobody pretends otherwise," he said, adding that the value of the global music industry had fallen from 25 billion euros ($38.8 billion) in 1999, to 18 billion euros ($27.9 billion) in 2007.

Kennedy said he was more optimistic now that ISPs were beginning to come round to the music industry's point of view on illegal file-sharing. "ISP cooperation is now an increasingly accepted concept - three years ago they would have thrown the idea out of the window. Necessity is the mother of invention."

He said ISPs are the "gatekeepers of the Internet", and added, "this is not about policing Internet, but about ISPs being responsible gatekeepers."

Kennedy said they were many solutions. "There is not one-to-fit-all," he said, noting that the "three strikes and out message gets through to the kids". He said "a graduated response is better than instant action. Disconnection is more effective than imposing fines".

Olivennes, who is the editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, was commissioned last year by Sarkozy to help devise a solution for online piracy. The French government has given its approval to the controversial legislation, and observers say it could be effective from early 2009. "We were extremely lucky with major ISPs and telecom operators [in France] - they were quite open to our suggestions," he said.

When summing up at the conference, Antonio Guisasola, president of Spanish IFPI affiliate Promusicae, said: "Are we going to leave France alone in this war, or join them? Now is the time to get down to work."

Referring to the recently-formed Coalition of Creators and Content Industries in Spain, which includes Promusicae and the event's organizer, authors' and publishers' collecting society SGAE, Guisasola said: "We are going to take this message to the government. And we'll tell the ISPs that they have much to gain by adopting a legal model."