Jeremy Hanley – 1985 Speech on Copyright Infringement

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hanley, the then Conservative MP for Richmond and Barnes, in the House of Commons on 18 December 1985.

I welcome the presence of my hon. Friend the Minister for Information Technology. I apologise for causing him to rise from his slumbers at such an hour, but I know that his concern about the subject of the debate is such that he will not begrudge the hour. The title of the debate is “Copyright infringement”, which is a rather bland title for what is often regarded as an unexciting subject. There are many who have thought that a little piracy and a little copyright infringement does no harm. It has been thought that a little stealing from those who already have enough, who already earn enough and who are employed is all right. It is considered that they are greedy if they want to stop any form of copyright infringement and that they can afford to bear it. That is the sort of attitude that so often pervades our society.

Recent events have changed all that. The public are now well aware of the depths to which the pirates can sink. With the recent cases of piracy involving the Live Aid concert, the title of the debate would perhaps be more appropriate if it were “Stealing from the Starving”.

The piracy of intellectual property is a world-wide industry. It has been estimated that between £800 million and £1,000 million worth of sales of audiotape worldwide are affected. It is probable that sales of videotapes and films to the value of £2 billion are affected. Books are pirated to the tune of £300 million worldwide on the best current estimate, and there is also piracy worldwide of computer software, textiles and other designs, motor parts, industrial and commercial products, and even of brand-name pills and medicines which are pirated and manufactured out of salts and sugars. The pirated pills and medicines do no good but at worst they can cause death because of their substitution.

I am sure that many hon. Members will have read and discussed the recent cynical attempt to cash in on the suffering of the starving millions in Africa by the Indonesian pirates, who have produced bootlegged tapes of the Live Aid concert which took place in July.

The British people have a good record of providing bilateral and multilateral aid, both through Governments and through private individuals giving generously. No doubt the House will remember that the Live Aid concert galvanised the world. It produced an international inspiration to give, and an international recognition of the fact that so many people, through no fault of their own, were starving and in need of help. We recall that 140 artistes gave of their services for no fee and performed live. Mr. Bob Geldof, in his unique and abrasive manner, cut through the niceties and red tape, put the show on the road and tapped the hearts and consciences of millions.

Perhaps I should explain the difference between bootlegged and pirated tapes. A pirated tape is when the manufacturer takes an existing tape, copies it, sells it—thus breaking copyright—and keeps the proceeds. A bootleg tape is when a manufacturer records something that does not exist on tape—perhaps a concert on television, or even a live concert. He manufactures and then sells the tape.

There are no original tapes of the Live Aid concert. There has never been a genuine, original tape of that concert. Many people may have recorded it in their homes, ​ many people may even have recorded it on video machines, but there is not a single commercial tape that is legitimate. People may question why it was not recorded, and feel that an opportunity may have been lost. They may ask whether Mr. Geldof is causing piracy by creating an unfulfilled demand. The truth is that 140 artistes have 140 lawyers, and to get 140 lawyers to sanction recorded music for sale is a devil of a job. Mr. Geldof gave guarantees that there would be no tapes until such time as the lawyers reached agreement.

After all, the concert was live and some of the performances were fairly instant and unrehearsed. Some of the artistes might not have wanted their contribution on a live platform preserved for posterity and sold on tape. Many of the performances were quite brilliant and inspired, yet they were not in any way performances designed to be recorded and sold to the world. They were an attempt to encourage people to give of their generosity as the artistes were giving of theirs.

The tapes that are being pirated throughout the world are labelled, “Original”. The bootleg tapes of the Live Aid concert even state on them, “For African famine relief’ in an attempt to convince consumers that they are not only buying good music, but are contributing to a worthy cause. Not a penny of the proceeds of those tapes that are selling in vast quantities throughout the far and middle east, even in Italy—and, who knows, even here—reaches the Band Aid Trust. The proceeds are pocketed by the pirates as private gain.

The International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers has estimated that more than 1·5 million cassettes have now been sold. The figure might even be nearer 2 million. According to Kevin Jenden of the Band Aid Trust, those proceeds would be enough to feed 2 million people for a month. Who has benefited? It is a few Indonesian millionaires.

The Live Aid recordings are currently on sale all over the middle east, especially in Saudi Arabia. As I said, they have even reached Italy. Boxed set LPs have been uncovered in italy, but they were also made in Indonesia. Those buying the cassettes are being led to believe that their money is going towards helping the starving in Africa, whereas in reality it is going into the pockets of the unscrupulous. At least four bootleg editions of the Live aid concert are on the market in the middle east, all manufactured in Indonesia. Some of the cassettes bear Indonesian Government sales tax stickers, which give a unique production number to each recording. The boxed sets of LPs found in Italy also carry those tax stickers.

In Saudi Arabia there are reports that at least 1 million copies of the Live Aid cassettes have been sold directly to that country because of demand. There was a story yesterday of a new tape cassette factory being opened in Indonesia with a production line capability of 6 million cassettes a month. The tax stickers that appear on the Indonesian cassettes show that the Indonesian Government have taken 15 US cents every time one is sold or exported. That means that the Indonesian Government have collected US $300,000 in money which should have gone to Live Aid. That is just a fraction of the money that has been made by the manufacturers of those bootleg tapes. On the other hand, the starving in Africa have received nothing from this industry.

Legal action can be taken in some countries. In Italy the industry is now carrying out nationwide raids on retailers of those bootleg tapes. To date 10,000 bootleg LPs ​ manufactured in Indonesia have been seized in Italy. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, virtually nothing happens. The copyright law protects only local recordings, and an estimated 30 million pirated cassettes are exported every year. The Indonesian Government claim that all exports of cassettes to Saudi Arabia are, according to a letter that I have, either recitals of the holy Koran or Indonesian Arabic music recordings. However, the facts speak for themselves. How can the Indonesian Government claim that the exports are only of the holy Koran w hen the stickers show that they know very well what they are collecting tax upon? The Live Aid bootleg is not a recital of holy works; it is a deliberate rip-off.

The message of international anger at the Live Aid piracy is beginning to embarrass the Indonesians. Mr. Mochtar Kusamaatmandja, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, has announced that he has asked the Justice Ministry to take action against the pirates. That may sound fine, but the problem is how. In response to previous complaints by the record industry, the Indonesians have always replied that piracy is not illegal under Indonesian law as no foreign records are covered by Indonesian copyright, as I explained. Only yesterday it was announced in Indonesia that the bootleggers were donating £22,000 out of the kindness of their hearts to Lye Aid. That was meant to be compensation for the millions of profit that they have made. I do not believe that that is a generous gesture at this Christmas time. It is a penny in a bucket, and one of the most cynical Christmas presents that I have ever heard of.

Live Aid is only one example, albeit perhaps the most despicable of late, of a much wider problem. The American charity record “We are the world” has been widely pirated, and many others, too. In fact, any successful record, whether for charity or not, is likely to be copied by the Indonesians and others within weeks of release.

That is costing the legitimate industry over US $1 billion per year in lost sales. The British music industry alone is losing almost £100 million per year from only six countries—there is more from others. Those countries are Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Nigeria and Malaysia. In Singapore, tape piracy accounts for 85 per cent. of the market. An estimated 10 million pirate cassettes will be sold on the local market and 50 million produced for export in 1985. However, I must give credit to Singapore. Although it has the worst record for copyright infringement of any country in the world, the Government have, as a result of pressure from the USA, announced their intention to enact a new copyright law before July next year. The level of piracy in Singapore is already declining, and if the legislation is enacted it should be down to under 10 per cent. by the end of next year. It is important that the pressure exerted upon Singapore by the USA should be maintained by foreign Governments until that happens.

In Taiwan, tape piracy accounts for 55 per cent. of the market. In Korea, it accounts for 10 per cent. of LPs and 90 per cent. of cassettes. In Malaysia, 85 per cent. of all cassette sales are pirated. There is very little piracy of LPs in Malaysia. In Nigeria, piracy accounts for 27·5 per cent. of LP sales and 83 per cent. of cassette sales. In Saudi Arabia there is little piracy of LPs but 95 per cent. of all cassettes sold are pirated. The only legitimate product available tends to be educational material. It is estimated that in Saudi Arabia 50 million pre-recorded pirate ​ cassettes will be sold in 1985. In addition, an estimated 100 million blank tapes will be sold, 40 per cent. of which will be used by shops for in-store pirate taping. In Indonesia, virtually 100 per cent. of recordings of international repertoires sold are pirated. The lost sales to the United Kingdom music industry are estimated to be as follows: Singapore more than £51 million; Taiwan £1·5 million; Korea £1·5 million; Malaysia £9·3 million; Nigeria £8·8 million; and Indonesia £14·8 million.

In Indonesia alone, record pirates are costing British companies some 15 million unit sales a year. It is time that the Government made a strong call for justice. The copyright law in Indonesia covers only local works. No protection is given to foreign works, whether they be books, sound recordings or films. Throughout Indonesia, foreign sound recordings are pirated extensively and about 30 million international recordings, as well as an Arab repertoire, are exported to Saudi Arabia. The matter has been raised with the Indonesian Government, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, representing all of the major copyright interests in the United States, recently submitted a report to the United States trade representative on piracy including Indonesia. The report is a staggering indictment of the pirates and a staggering record of the extent of the piracy worldwide.

Like any other, the record business deserves a return on its investment. Only one record in 10 becomes successful and the profits from that 10 per cent. are needed to fund development and rising artistes and to pay for less profitable but culturally valuable recordings such as jazz and classical music. It is not generally known, though it is obvious with a little thought, that there is no other industry in Britain in which young people, perhaps with little education or hope of great success, can succeed in a manner which is beyond most people’s dreams. No other industry enables groups of young people to succeed financially and to rise to popular acclaim so quickly, knowing that their talents will be used for many years to come. The investment in new groups and new recording artistes is one of the most valuable contributions of the record business. It is the marginal profits which help to create extra investment. If the record industry gets the correct return for its services, more groups and more young people will be given a start to see whether the public approve of their musical tastes.

The pirates put nothing into the industry. They discover no talents and take no risks. They copy only the top 10 per cent. and siphon off the money needed to invest in the future. Without that money, fewer artistes are recorded, fewer classical records appear and our culture is weakened. We have institutionalised piracy in the United Kingdom. How many people can honestly say that they do not record records or programmes from the radio or television? It is regrettable that the Government are no longer considering a royalty on blank cassette tapes. I believe that the public would prefer their taping of records and programmes to be legitimised. If, in exchange for that, a royalty of 10p or 20p per blank tape were paid, I am sure that everyone would understand the benefits which would flow from a better funded record business. I am told that that is not to be, and I have registered my regret.

Records are not alone in being attacked. The copiers attack any successful industry—the book trade, software ​ houses and film producers. Counterfeiting strikes at well-known British trade marks, and often with dangerous results. We have all heard of the fake Ferodo brake linings sold in Africa which take six times as long to stop a vehicle as genuine linings and the useless drugs that are sold under well-known names. Fakers are costing the industry millions of pounds and thousands of jobs. When will it end?

The Live Aid piracy puts not only the Government but all of us under a moral obligation to take a firm stand. British works are not protected in Indonesia, yet the Indonesians get the sixth highest amount of British foreign aid in the world. In 1984 we gave them £28 million in trade loans and aid. Is it not time that we imposed a few more conditions when we are so generous? I am not asking that we take money from the starving, or that we withdraw genuine money aid which will be used for those less fortunate than ourselves, but if we are lending money for industrial purposes and bilateral trade arrangements, the conditions should be much stronger.

The old cautious arguments that we must do nothing to upset existing trade are not good enough. The Americans do not think so. Section 301 of their Trade Act allows them to impose sanctions in countries that do not protect United States copyrights, trade marks and patents. Moreover, they have shown that they are prepared to use it. There is even a danger that countries such as Indonesia will seek bilateral deals with the United States to protect only American products. That will allow the pirates to turn their full attention to copying the goods of more cautious countries that will not act to protect themselves.

We know what can be achieved by a strong line. Secretary of State Shultz, during a recent visit to Singapore, laid down the law. When the public in Singapore discovered that they had not bought genuine Live Aid cassettes and that the money had not gone to the starving in Africa, they were livid. The Singapore Government asked the public to seek out the bootleggers. They were discovered within a few days, and are now serving 10 to 15 years imprisonment for what I regard as theft.

Exactly five years ago there was an Adjournment debate about counterfeiting of United Kingdom trade marks in Taiwan, especially in the textile and motor industries. The then Minister for Trade, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Hertsmere (Mr. Parkinson), made a robust reply. He said:

“The hon. Member said that the way forward is for us to ban the import of products from Taiwan. I must tell the Taiwanese authorities that our patience is wearing extremely thin. We are considering the evidence at our disposal. They have the opportunity to avoid a major incident by taking the strong action that Hong Kong has taken. Unless they do, the Taiwanese authorities must be prepared to accept the consequences”.—[Official Report, 19 December 1980; Vol. 996, c. 730.]

The result was not a trade war, as some timorous souls forecasted, but strong new Taiwanese legislation within months. It can have been no accident that a delegation from the European motor industry shortly afterwards saw that the Taiwanese Trade Minister had a copy of the relevant Hansard on his desk.

In reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory), the Government have said that they will make representations to the Indonesian Government about Live Aid piracy. That is a start, but it is not enough. The Government should make it abundantly clear to the Indonesian Government that piracy of any ​ British work will no longer be tolerated, and that unless reciprocal copyright protection is granted to United Kingdom works they must face the consequences.

In a letter of 30 November to the Confederation of Information Communication Industries, my hon. Friend the Minister said that we must have proof of the illegal act. I have proof, which he can see later today—bootlegged cassettes with Indonesian sales tax stamps and individual numbers on them. That is the extent to which the pirates will go.

The anti-counterfeiting unit of the Department of Trade and Industry was doing valuable work which I should like to continue. I am pleased to announce that the copyright industries—the Publishers Association, the record industry, and video and software producers—are now coming together in a new coalition to present to the Government evidence of the damage caused to British companies, and to spell out the case for protection. At this time of Christmas, I call on the Government to heed their call.