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Content Theft Is No Game

Copyright is what underpins the UK's creative industry and the future career opportunities available to young British talent, so bringing this understanding into the classroom is imperative.

Last week saw the much anticipated premiere of Game of Thrones season 6, which throws up some interesting questions, and I'm not talking about the plot. Before the premier had even been officially aired there were clips appearing online.

In the days after the premier, Sky released figures to say it was their most watched show, testament to the value and appreciation most fans show for the brilliance of this production.

Sadly, and counter to the huge fandom that has driven the franchise, it also appears to be one of the most heavily pirated TV shows, with estimates from TorrentFreak suggesting it was downloaded heavily in the days since it first aired. This shows that even when content windows are shortened or, as in this case, synced - with dedicated UK fans staying up to 2am to find out whether Jon Snow is really dead - a move which appears to address the reasons some self-acclaimed 'fans' of the show cite as the driver for them to pirate this amazing content, some still find the need to rationalise a bizarrely counter-intuitive decision to pirate it.

It's a problem that as an industry we need to be aligned on and take seriously. Stolen content does more harm than just revealing the odd spoiler; it threatens the future of the entire audio-visual industry. Without everyone playing their part to contribute fairly to the production of such inspiring film and TV, how can future generations expect to make a career in the creative industries? And without that talent, or sufficient investment, how can the industry keep creating the kind of compelling content that gets everyone talking?

It's a well-timed topic with the global celebration of World Intellectual Property Day taking place in the same week - the theme of which was the future of culture in the digital age. It posed questions such as how we create it, how we access it and how we finance it.

Financing the future of the film industry is something that acclaimed producer Gale Anne Hurd tackled in a recent debate on content protection. Her comments came following figures which showed the season 5 premier of her hit show The Walking Dead had been illegally downloaded by roughly 1.27m unique IP addresses worldwide within 24 hours. She said: "There's a mistaken belief by many of my peers that piracy is somehow good...I'm not sure they really understand...that the people who pirate are not then going to choose legal downloads or legal viewing in the future."

She hit the nail on the head there. And it's something that filmmakers and audiences alike need to wise up to. There is no place for piracy in film promotion and creating 'buzz'.

It's something that we are constantly fighting with the help of strategic partners such as Creative Skill Set and Into Film to create engaging education programmes for future consumers and future filmmakers alike. Film education can play a pivotal role in educating future generations of consumers, helping young people understand the right way to use copyright material, as the value of content they enjoy plays a vital role in securing the future of entertainment, and maybe even their own careers in film or television.

Copyright is what underpins the UK's creative industry and the future career opportunities available to young British talent, so bringing this understanding into the classroom is imperative. Encouraging pupils to become 'creators' themselves, exploring the many roles involved in making a film, or holding a discussion or debate around issues such as film piracy and illegal downloading are good ways to get these important messages across. Ensuring they know about legitimate ways to access content such as is another step in the right direction.

Likewise educating the future talent of the industry, who themselves sometimes fail to see the link between piracy and the threat to future investment, is critical. As the digital evolution of the creative industry continues apace, they need to be educated about how the industry works and why they should respect IP if they want to see the continuation of film and TV production.

If we want to continue being left on the edge of our seats by compelling content like Game of Thrones, as an industry we must unite our efforts and focus on safeguarding the industry - now and for the future.

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