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U.K. players protest against piracy

Producers, directors, writers call for action

In an open letter printed in the Times newspaper in London on Tuesday, more than 100 British film and TV industry heavyweights expressed their alarm over the damage online piracy is inflicting on the biz.

Signatories include directors Alan Parker, Ken Loach, Stephen Daldry, Mike Leigh and Kenneth Branagh and writers Peter Morgan and Richard Curtis.

In the letter, the players said, “We are very concerned that the successes of the creative industries in the U.K. are being undermined by the illegal online file-sharing of film and TV content.

“At a time when so many jobs are being lost in the wider economy, it is especially important that this issue be taken seriously by the government and that it devotes the resources necessary to enforce the law.”

The letter adds that, in 2007, an estimated 98 million illegal downloads and streams of films took place in the U.K., while more than 6 million people engage in illegal file-sharing regularly.

Letter particularly highlights the problem of illegal downloading of TV shows, calling the U.K. “the world leader, with up to 25% of all online TV piracy taking place” there.

The creatives go on to urge the government to get tough with Internet service providers. ISPs “have the ability to change the behavior of those customers who illegally distribute content online. They have the power to make significant change and to prevent their infrastructure from being used on a wholesale scale for illegal activity. If they are not prepared to act responsibly, they should be compelled to do so.”

The rallying call is backed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and actors union Equity.

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