Need to Know – 29.01.16

General

New Government figures reveal that UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

Government publishes policy “non-paper” on “Opportunities to develop cross-border parcel delivery”.

European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee endorses draft Directive on Trade Secrets.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Office holds a roundtable discussion on European Commission’s consultation on enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property Office launches five-year strategy setting out plans to boost British innovation and UK’s creative sector.

Technology

High Court reapplies principles in British Telecom v One in a Million and finds mere registration of domain names in which defendant had goodwill amounts to passing off.

Government publishes consultation on European Commission’s draft Directives on online sale of digital content and tangible goods.

Ofcom publishes new Voluntary Business Broadband Speeds Code of Practice to provide business customers with more accurate and reliable information on broadband speeds.

Data Protection

European Data Protection Supervisor announces new “Digital Ethics” project.

Information Commissioner warns companies that failure to keep personal data safe risks long-lasting reputational damage.

Information Commissioner’s Office launches new self-assessment tool to help SMEs assess compliance with Data Protection Act 1998.

Litigation

Government publishes response to IPO consultation on unjustified threats on intellectual property rights.

Music

Advertising Standards Authority rejects complaints that Radio X ad featuring Chris Moyles condoned anti-social behaviour and was inappropriately scheduled.

BPI welcomes Government’s report showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

Publishing

News Media Association welcomes Government’s report showing value of creative industries grew at almost double the rate of the economy as a whole.

News Media Association announces launch of News Media Europe.

Film & TV

Pact welcomes Government’s report showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

Computer Games

Ukie welcomes Government figures showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy, but criticises data collection methods for games industry.

General

New Government figures reveal that UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

British films, music, video games, crafts and publishing are taking a lead role in driving the UK’s economic recovery, according to the latest Government statistics.

The figures show the sector growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy, generating £9.6 million per hour.

Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, said: “The creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, with British musicians, artists, fashion brands and films immediately recognisable in nations across the globe.  Growing at almost twice the rate of the wider economy and worth a staggering £84 billion a year, our Creative Industries are well and truly thriving and we are determined to ensure its continued growth and success”.  To read the Government’s press release in full and for a link to the new statistics, click here.

Government publishes policy “non-paper” on “Opportunities to develop cross-border parcel delivery”.

The Government’s paper comes in support of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy.  The Government says that it “strongly supports the Commission’s work to develop the market for cross-border parcel delivery”, which will play a “key role in facilitating the digital economy and building the single market”.

According to the Government, a successful Digital Single Market package on cross-border parcel delivery should:

  • support e-retailers to deliver throughout the EU, increasing the size of their potential market;
  • give consumers access to a wider range of products and suppliers; and
  • increase competition in e-retail, which should drive productivity improvements among e-retailers and deliver lower prices to consumers.

The Government says that the benefits from an effective cross-border delivery market to UK businesses and consumers will be “substantial”.  Currently, it says, 79% of UK consumers shop online, a higher proportion than in any other EU Member State and those that do shop online spend more (€1,600 on average) than their counterparts in any other large Member State.  The UK also has a well-developed e-commerce market (the largest in the EU with online sales of €130 billion in 2014), which should be well placed to deliver cross-border.

Despite the current strengths in the UK parcel delivery market, there are several problems that are holding back cross-border e-retail:

  • smaller e-retailers are not as well informed about the range of delivery options available to them, or how to access the best prices;
  • consumers do not always have the information they need to compare delivery services and be confident about the service they are buying;
  • delivery quality can suffer when sending cross-border, e.g. parcels may go missing or be delivered late; and
  • competition on cross-border routes may be lower than on domestic routes.

The paper sets out the Government’s key recommendations that it considers the Commission should be looking at, over and above price transparency and regulatory oversight:

  • improve transparency for consumers;
  • help small e-retailers get the best deal on parcel delivery;
  • improve delivery quality;
  • strengthen market oversight; and
  • remove barriers to competition.

To read the Government’s paper in full, click here.

European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee endorses draft Directive on Trade Secrets.

The draft Directive introduces a EU-wide definition of “trade secret”, meaning information that is secret has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret.

It would oblige EU Member States to ensure that victims of misuse of trade secrets are able to defend their rights in court and to seek compensation.  The agreed text also lays down rules to protect confidential information during legal proceedings.

Throughout the negotiations, MEPs stressed the need to ensure that the legislation does not curb media freedom and pluralism or restrict the work of journalists, in particular with regard to their investigations and the protection of their sources.

The Committee approved the provisionally agreed text by 20 votes to two, with three abstentions.

The draft Directive is to be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole in April 2016.  It also needs to be endorsed by the Council of the European Union.  To read the European Parliament’s press release in full, click here.

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Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Office holds a roundtable discussion on European Commission’s consultation on enforcement of intellectual property rights.

In December 2015, the Commission launched a consultation on the evaluation and modernisation of the legal framework for the enforcement of intellectual property rights.  This aims to help assess the functioning of the IP Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC) in the online environment, with a view to identifying any need for change, and proposals for corrective measures.  It also addresses a number of issues, such as the role of intermediaries in IPR enforcement, and the specialisation of courts, which are currently not dealt with by the Directive, but which might be taken up in any future initiative in order to modernise the enforcement of IPR.

The IPO is holding an open roundtable meeting at its London office on Thursday 4 February , 5.00pm to 6:30pm, to gather stakeholder views on the consultation.  To attend, contact enforcement@ipo.gov.uk to register.  Click here for a link to the Commission’s consultation.

Intellectual Property Office launches five-year strategy setting out plans to boost British innovation and UK’s creative sector.

The publication, “Making life better by supporting UK creativity and innovation”, highlights core areas of focus that will help boost economic growth and competitiveness via a world-class Intellectual Property regime.  This includes:

  • increasingly strong enforcement action against counterfeiters and other IP thieves;
  • a dedicated programme of IP education for UK businesses and students; and
  • a commitment to joining and shaping an EU-wide patent system that will provide improved protection for UK business across Europe.

The strategy recognises that despite the UK’s strong IP regime, more must be done to ensure that businesses and individuals are capitalising on their creativity.

The IPO says that even a modest increase in the registration, protection, and exploitation of IP would contribute to UK job creation and economic growth.  For example firms that apply for trade marks are 7% more productive than those that do not, it says.

The IPO’s programme of education and its commitment to digitising and streamlining the application process for all registered rights will work to address and overcome any accessibility issues.

The strategy also recognises the important role the UK will play in delivering the Prime Minister’s vision for an EU Digital Single Market in which individuals and businesses can legitimately access online goods and services regardless of nationality and location.  To read the IPO’s press release in full and for a link to the strategy, click here.

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Technology

High Court reapplies principles in British Telecom v One in a Million and finds mere registration of domain names in which defendant had goodwill amounts to passing off.

In March and April 2014, the claimant, Yoyo.email Ltd registered the domain names, rbsbank.email, rbs.email, natwest.email and coutts.email.   The defendant, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, was the registered proprietor of the trade marks RBS, RBSBANK, NATWEST and COUTTS.

In May 2014, RBS filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation pursuant to ICANN’s Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy.  The domain name dispute resolution Panel found that: (i) the domain names in question were identical or confusingly similar to RBS’s registered trade marks; (ii) that Yoyo.email’s proposed use of them could not be regarded as bona fide, nor was the intended use of them legitimate or fair; and (iii) that Yoyo.email had registered the domain names and intended them to be used in bad faith.  The Panel ordered that the domain names be transferred to RBS.  The domain names were transferred accordingly, but were held in “lock” due to these proceedings.

Yoyo.email contended that the Panel’s decision was wrong and commenced proceedings in the High Court for negative declaratory relief to the effect that it had been guilty of no wrongdoing.  RBS denied that Yoyo.email was entitled to such relief and counterclaimed for passing off and registered trade mark infringement.

RBS applied to the court, first, to strike out the claim and/or for reverse summary judgment on the claim and, secondly, to strike out Yoyo.email’s Defence to Counterclaim and/or for summary judgment on the counterclaim.

In terms of passing off, RBS’s goodwill and reputation in the names RBS, RBSBANK, NATWEST and COUTTS, was not in dispute.  The central issue was misrepresentation.

Following the Court of Appeal decision in British Telecommunications plc v One in a Million Ltd [1999] FSR 1, His Honour Judge Dight, found that the mere registration of the domain names, which were distinctive, made a representation to those consulting the register that the registrant was connected or associated with the names registered and thus the owner of the goodwill in those names.  Further, they would believe that the registered owners were connected or associated with the owner of the goodwill in the registered domain names.

HHJ Dight did not accept Yoyo.email’s submission that the court’s reasoning in One in a Million was out of date because the internet had developed to such an extent since that decision was made (or that the public had become significantly more sophisticated) that the reasoning no longer held good.  The essential factual elements behind the decision had not altered, HHJ Dight said, namely the registration of a distinctive domain name on a register that could be accessed by the public.

HHJ Dight also did not accept that the law had moved on in any relevant way since One in a Million was decided.  The reasoning of the Court of Appeal had been followed and applied in a number of cases in the intervening years both in first instance decisions and in the Court of Appeal.  Therefore, One in a Million established a principle of law by which HHJ Dight was bound and meant that registration of the domain names by Yoyo.email amounted to passing off.

HHJ Dight rejected Yoyo.email’s submission that its proposed business model and intended use of the domain names needed to be explored at trial.  Yoyo.email argued that, applying its business model, no one had been or would be misled by its registration of the domain names into believing that its products or services were those of or connected or associated with or approved by RBS.  Yoyo.email emphasised that it had not threatened to use the domain names to pass off or dispose of them.  This was, however, irrelevant, HHJ Dight found because actionable passing off had already occurred at the point of registration of the domain names.

As for RBS’s application to strike out the claim, HHJ Dight found that clause 4K of the UDRP, which allows either side to submit the dispute to the court for independent resolution either before UDRP proceedings are commenced or after such proceedings are concluded, did not give rise to a separate cause of action in favour of Yoyo.email.  Further, clause 4K did afford any jurisdiction to the court to act as an appeal or review body from the decision of the URDRP Panel.

There was no practical utility in granting declaratory relief because: (i) the UDRP scheme had already dealt with the issue; (ii) any declaration made by the court could not alter the findings of the Panel; and (iii) the effect of HHJ Dight’s conclusions on the application for summary judgment on the counterclaim rendered the claim otiose.

This was, therefore, a “plain and obvious case for striking the Claim out”.  Further, had he not reached such conclusion, HHJ Dight said, he would have granted reverse summary judgment, dismissing the claim on the basis that it had no real, as opposed to fanciful, prospect of succeeding and that there was no other compelling reason why it should proceed to trial.  (Yoyo.email Ltd v Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc [2015] EWHC 3509 (Ch) (2 December 2015) – to read the judgment in full, click here).

Government publishes consultation on European Commission’s draft Directives on online sale of digital content and tangible goods.

As part of its Digital Single Market Strategy, the European Commission published two new draft Directives proposing harmonised consumer rights for the sale of digital content and the online sale of tangible goods.

The aim of the Directives is to reduce barriers to the growth of cross-border e-commerce in the EU by setting common rules across Member States for certain key aspects of consumer law.  The Government says that taking “effective steps toward unlocking these barriers could have an enormous impact on UK businesses and consumers”.

The Government explains that the draft Directives are based on existing EU law and, as such, mirror many of the consumer rights and obligations already in place in the UK.  However, there are also some important aspects in which the proposals differ from the rights currently in place in the UK (contained in the Consumer Rights Act 2015).  If adopted as currently drafted, the proposal would therefore require some changes to the UK consumer protection regime.

The consultation sets out some brief observations on the proposals, including in respect of the main differences with the current position in the UK.  The Government is objectively seeking the views of interested parties.  It is keen to receive observations on some or all of these potential changes, as well as broader reflections on the proposals and the benefits of having a maximum harmonisation measure from both a business and consumer perspective.

In particular, it would like to receive comments on the potential impacts of these changes to respondents’ businesses, their staff and on consumers.  It would also like to see views on the balance of the proposals, comparing the impact of the changes to UK law against the benefits of opening up the digital single market.  To access the consultation documentation, click here.

Ofcom publishes new Voluntary Business Broadband Speeds Code of Practice to provide business customers with more accurate and reliable information on broadband speeds.

The Code is a voluntary commitment from the Internet Service Providers who are signatories to the Code.  They undertake to provide accurate and transparent speed information on standard business broadband services at point of sale, manage business customers’ speed-related problems, and allow customers to exit the contract without penalty if speeds fall below a minimum threshold.

Businesses taking a new broadband service will, for the first time, enjoy a similar level of protection as residential broadband users.

The new Code applies to all businesses, regardless of size, and to all standard business broadband services across all technologies (ADSL, Cable, Fibre to the Cabinet, Fibre to the Premises, Wireless and Satellite).  It has also been tailored to meet the specific needs of businesses.

The Code comes into effect from 30 September 2016 to give providers time to put in place the requirements of the Code.  Ofcom is inviting all providers of business broadband to sign up to the Code.

Mystery shopping, to check if ISPs are complying with both the letter and spirit of the Code, will be carried out once the Code is fully implemented.  Ofcom says that it will also continue to assess the Code’s effectiveness while considering other ways to improve communication of broadband speeds.  To read Ofcom’s press release in full and for a link to the new Code, click here.

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Data Protection

European Data Protection Supervisor announces new “Digital Ethics” project.

The EDPS has launched a discussion, both in the EU and globally, on how to ensure the integrity of fundamental rights and values while embracing the benefits of new technologies.  Speaking at the annual Conference of Computers, Privacy and Data Protection, Giovanni Buttarelli said that he had established an Ethics Advisory Group, which will enable the realisation of the benefits of technology for society and the economy in ways that reinforce the rights and freedoms of individuals.

The Group will comprise six people, each an expert in their respective field, who will consider digital ethics from a variety of academic and practical perspectives, with a view to producing a new ethical approach to data protection, privacy and the digital world.

The Advisory Group will work with other experts, for example through interviews and workshops with representatives of the scientific community around the world as well as data protection experts.  In the interests of transparency, periodic summaries of their work will be made public.

The EDPS will also contribute ideas to the work of the group, for instance on how experience, common sense and morality can be factored into automated decision-making processes.  Otherwise, the group members, who will not be remunerated, are expected to work autonomously and free from any interference or conflict of interest.

The group is expected to deliver its findings, recommendations and views in the form of reports (interim, discussion and final), which will be presented at public meetings and workshops.  A draft final report setting out the group’s new ethical approach to data protection, privacy and the digital environment is expected to be submitted by January 2017 for public consultation.

Mr Buttarelli said: “Most of us agree that we are each more than the sum of our data and yet we are more defined by our quantified selves than ever.  Our privacy has almost become a commodity, used to sell ideas and products back to us or to influence our behaviour.  I am, therefore, delighted to announce that the EDPS, with the support of an Ethics Advisory Group, has started his work to re-consider the ethical dimension of the relationships between human rights, technology, markets and business models and their implications for the rights to privacy and data protection in the digital environment.  With the help of this group, we intend to identify a new ethical approach in the coming years so that individuals are no longer reduced to mere data subjects in the digital environment”.  To read the EDPS’s press release in full, click here.

Information Commissioner warns companies that failure to keep personal data safe risks long-lasting reputational damage.

Speaking at the Advertising Association’s leadership summit on 28 January, the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said that ICO fines of up to £500,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act are a powerful deterrent, but the negative impact created by media coverage of a penalty can have a greater impact than the fine itself and can seriously impact on the future success of the business.

Christopher Graham’s comments are backed up by a YouGov poll, commissioned by the ICO to mark European Data Protection Day, which showed that 20% of people would definitely stop using a company’s services after hearing news of a data breach, while 57% would consider stopping.  Only 8% said the coverage would make no difference and 14% said that they did not know.

Keeping personal data secure is just part of the picture.  Some 95% of people polled said it was very or fairly important that companies were clear from the outset about how their personal information would be used.  Further, 94% deemed it very or fairly important that their information was not shared with other companies.

Mr Graham said: “Companies that play fast and loose with people’s personal information risk the wrath of the ICO and that means fines of up to £500,000.  A heavy fine is bad enough, but the time, energy and money it takes to rebuild customer confidence can be as severe a punishment as the fine itself.  The knock on effect of a data breach can be devastating for a company.  Getting hit with a fine is one thing, but when customers start taking their business – and their money – elsewhere, that can be a real body blow.  It is clear that people care about what happens to their personal information. Getting it right is not only an obligation under law, but it should be central to an organisation’s reputation management”.

Information Commissioner’s Office launches new self-assessment tool to help SMEs assess compliance with Data Protection Act 1998.

The toolkit provides links to relevant guidance and further information and will generate a rating based on responses.

The easy-to-use toolkit provides a comprehensive assessment that covers the key obligations that SMEs have in relation to processing their customers’ or clients’ personal information.  Alternatively, it can be used to create separate checklists so users can tailor it to their organisation’s particular needs and risks.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “Good data protection practice makes business sense.  It can lead to better, more efficient customer service and help to protect and enhance your reputation.  It could also help you avoid a fine from the ICO”.  To access the toolkit, click here.

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Litigation

Government publishes response to IPO consultation on unjustified threats on intellectual property rights.

Patent, trade mark and design law provides businesses with certain protections, so that they are not unfairly threatened with legal action for infringing someone’s intellectual property rights.  The existing provisions do not however work as well as they should, the Government explains.  They are thought to be inconsistent and unclear, enabling experts to exploit technical loopholes while tripping up the unwary.  They have been accused of failing to achieve the necessary balance, which is to allow rights holders to protect highly valuable assets, but not to misuse threats of infringement to distort competition.

In 2012 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Intellectual Property Office asked the Law Commission to review the relevant statutory provisions.  The Law Commission published a Consultation Paper in 2013 and responses showed strong support for retaining protection against unjustified threats and overall support for reform of the existing law.

The consultation exercise was followed by a Law Commission Report in April 2014, which summarised the responses received and made 18 recommendations for reform.  The Government responded on 26 February 2015, accepting the recommendations (in a few cases with some qualifications), and tasked the Law Commission with drafting a bill.  This was published along with the Law Commission’s final report on 12 October 2015.

In October 2015, the Intellectual Property Office launched a discussion document on the Law Commission’s final report.  It received 12 responses and has now published its own response.

The Government has accepted the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform, including those made in the final Law Commission report, and intends to introduce primary legislation to implement these reforms.  Essentially, the legislation will bring the law for trade marks and designs into line with that for patents by allowing a rights holder to challenge someone who is a primary actor without fear of facing a groundless threats action.  It will also:

  • make sure that the threats provisions are much clearer;
  • make it easier for parties to make good faith attempts to settle an IP infringement dispute before litigation; and
  • stop legal advisers from being subject to threats and accusations when the dispute is between the parties that they represent.

To read the response in full, click here.

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Music

Advertising Standards Authority rejects complaints that Radio X ad featuring Chris Moyles condoned anti-social behaviour and was inappropriately scheduled.

An ad, shown on TV and the ITV Player for the radio station Radio X, featured the DJ Chris Moyles walking down a street a la Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony.  He was shown bumping into a number of people, including a man holding a coffee, a character in a costume and a paramedic pushing someone on a stretcher, and he knocked a cake out of a woman’s hand.  He then walked through a wall of the Radio X studio building.

The ASA rejected complaints that the ad was offensive, irresponsible and, in the case of the TV ad, inappropriately scheduled.  While the ASA accepted that some viewers were unlikely to recognise the parody element of the ad and would find Moyles’ actions unpleasant, it considered that the context in which the ad was shown meant viewers were unlikely to interpret it as realistic and as an acceptable way to behave.  As such, the ad did not breach CAP and BCAP Code rules on social responsibility, harm and offence and children.

The ASA also dismissed the scheduling complaint.  It noted that the ex-kids restriction, which applied to the ad, meant there was a reduced likelihood of younger children seeing the ad and considered that older children were likely to understand its fantastical nature.  The ASA therefore considered that the scheduling restriction applied was appropriate for the content.  To read ASA Ruling on This Is Global Ltd (27 January 2016), click here.

BPI welcomes Government’s report showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

Responding to the figures (see item under “General”), Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI and BRIT Awards, commented: “These figures confirm that the Creative Industries are a powerful driver of growth for the UK economy.  Britain’s music industry is a world leader in terms of exports – 1 in 7 albums bought worldwide is by a British artist.  Record labels are the key investors behind this success, reinvesting almost 50% of their revenues every year to develop new artists and promote them to the next generation of fans around the world”.  To read BPI’s press release in full, click here.

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Publishing

News Media Association welcomes Government’s report showing value of creative industries grew at almost double the rate of the economy as a whole.

Responding to the Government’s report showing that the UK’s creative industries are now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy (see item under “General”), NMA deputy chief executive Lynne Anderson said: “This report spells out the fundamental importance of the creative industries, of which news media publishing is an integral part, to the wider UK economy.  Commercial news media publishers have a crucial role to play in fostering economic growth and we welcome the Government’s commitment to creating the right conditions for the continued success of the creative industries”.  To read NMA’s press release, click here.

News Media Association announces launch of News Media Europe.

NMA explains that NME promotes the interests of the news media industry to the European Union institutions.  A “modern, inclusive and proactive force in the EU lobby sector”, NME represents the interests of publishers of newspapers and news media on all platforms.

The NME’s launch followed a meeting of the NME Copyright task force with European Commissioner Günther Oettinger, which discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the news media sector in the Digital Single Market, with a particular focus on copyright.

The establishment of NME followed the decision of 11 countries to withdraw from the European Newspaper Publishers Association.  These include Belgium (Flanders), Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

At the launch event, founding president of NME, Fernando de Yarza Lopez, chief executive of Grupo Heraldo in Spain, said: “We look to a bright future for our industry.  Four out of five people in the EU access news media every week making us global leaders in this industry. We are at the heart of the creative economy of Europe.  Our aims are simple.  To uphold and enhance the freedom to publish.  And to champion the news brands – in print and on line – that are powering the creative industries of the EU”.

NME vice president and executive director of the Telegraph Media Group, Lord Black of Brentwood said: “Freedom of expression is the foundation on which European democracy, and European civilization, is built. It is the guardian of every other individual liberty we as European citizens take for granted – of thought, conscience and prayer, of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial, of free assembly.  Where the press falters, either because of a direct attack on free speech or more likely in such a competitive world because it has failed commercially, then the quality of our democracy suffers. That is why News Media Europe is so passionate about this, and why our central mission – central to everything we will do – is to be vigilant in safeguarding it”.  To read NMA’s press release in full, click here.

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Film & TV

Pact welcomes Government’s report showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to UK economy.

Responding to the recently released Government figures (see item under “General”), John McVay, CEO of Pact (the trade association representing the commercial interests of UK independent television, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies), commented: “This report clearly shows the value of the creative industries to the UK economy. UK independent producers are a vital part of this story, with British film and TV content being both a critical and commercial success in the UK and around the world. We share the government’s commitment to the sector’s continued growth and success, and will continue do everything we can to ensure that UK indies can maximise the value and reach of their content”.  To read Pact’s press release in full, click here.

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Computer Games

Ukie welcomes Government figures showing UK’s creative industries now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy, but criticises data collection methods for games industry.

Responding to the recently released Government figures (see item under “General”), Ukie said that the estimates on the games sector continue to face inconsistencies in how data and companies are captured and classified formerly.  The figures show impressive growth in employment, rising from 19,000 in 2013 to 24,000 last year, an increase of 26% in just one year, but they portray a fall in GVA (Gross Value Added), which reportedly dropped from £599 million to £426 million.  This is at odds with figures in Ukie’s November 2015 Blueprint for Growth Report, which estimated the GVA of the industry at £935 million in 2014.

Ukie says that these difficulties stem from the way the current official Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system is put together.  Its September 2014 report with Nesta, A Map of the UK Games Industry, found 1,904 games and interactive entertainment companies working in the UK, only one third of which were included in the SIC codes that the Government uses to estimate the size of the games industry.  The DCMS release itself notes that, due to the insufficient level of data from SIC codes, “estimates at this level of detail are volatile and dependent on survey data and, as such, should be treated with caution. In particular, single years of data can be misleading”.

Lacking a modern classification that reflects how the sector is seen could potentially hinder the development of government interventions similar to those on offer to film and TV to support the growth and diversity of the industry, Ukie says.

The games industry is currently enjoying impressive growth, strengthened by the 2014 introduction of the Video Games Tax Relief, which has had a profound effect on games companies in the UK being able to hire more talented staff.  Ukie says that it will continue to work with DCMS and the Office for National Statistics to improve the accuracy of the official estimate to properly reflect this success and communicate it to the world.  To read Ukie’s press release in full, click here.

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