About the Alliance

Alliance Encouraged by Peers to Launch their Private Member's Bill Early

15 November 1999

Lord McNally (Lib Dem Life Peer) held a successful briefing for interested parliamentarians in the House of Lords on Wednesday 10th November to explain the contents and aims of the Private Member's Bill which he is sponsoring on behalf of the Alliance Against Counterfeiting & Piracy.

The meeting was intended to generate cross party support for Lord McNally when he launches the Copyright and Trade Marks Bill in the next few weeks in the House of Lords. Lord Jenkin (a well respected and very experienced Conservative politician) wanted to know how much support the Alliance had from government departments for the legislative aims of the Bill. The peers and MPs were advised that there is sympathy in the DTI for some of the clauses which tidy up existing legislation and make it easier to enforce the rights of video, games and music publishers as well as other owners of intellectual property, but not for further regulation of car boot sales which could make landowners liable for illicit trade being carried out on their property. Lord McNally was encouraged to go ahead with the Bill in order to air the issues in a full debate in the Lords and not be too worried about opposition at this stage to some clauses as some controversy would attract more attention and speakers in the debate.

Lavinia Carey, chair of the Alliance, said, "I am pleased that parliamentarians are not advocating us to be too sensible in dropping measures that are unpopular with government officials at this stage, because the purpose of launching the Bill in the House of Lords is to take advantage of the time available at the beginning of the new session to really get our concerns out in the open for politicians in all parties to understand. We hope the Government will be persuaded to support copyright owners in our quest for more effective laws to aid enforcement by our anti-piracy bodies."

The main legislative goals of the bill are:

1. Regulate car boot sales to make landowners responsible for the sort of trading they allow on their property
2. Prevent companies from dressing up products to resemble well known brands, so confusing consumers into thinking they have the same quality as branded goods
3. Extend the use of search warrants for certain copyright offences which currently don't qualify
4. Enable rights owners to seize pirate and counterfeit goods on sale from "temporary" shops or stalls which are actually regular places of business
5. Increase penalties for theft of intellectual property to match the 7 years for theft of physical property
6. Stop pirates making and selling equipment that circumvents copyright protection measures
7. Put the onus on suppliers to prove they are licensed rather than making the rights owner have to produce the evidence that they are not
8. Make company directors responsible for ensuring their employees pay for the software they use at work
9. Ensure adequate funding to enable TSOs to enforce the Copyright Designs and Patents Act
10. Protect "whistleblowers'" identity when they report illegal copying to rights owners
11. Provide realistic damages to rights holders whose products have been illegally copied

For information about joining the Alliance please contact
Susie Winter at susie@allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk
or on 020 7534 0595