HC Deb 19 July 1982 vol 28 cc9-10
7. Mr. Shersby

asked the Minister for Trade whether he has received recent representations from the record industry concerning the extent of copyright infringement resulting from home taping.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Iain Sproat)

British Phonographic Industry Ltd., which represents the United Kingdom record industry, has recently submitted its written response to the copyright Green Paper (Cmnd. 8302). This includes its latest estimate of the amount of home taping of music that takes place. It estimates that in 1981, 22 per cent. of the music that was recorded privately on to blank tape resulted in lost sales to the record industry, and from this it draws the conclusion that the industry lost sales with a total retail value of £305 million. Of course, these are only estimates. There is no way of knowing exactly how many sales are lost as a result of home taping.

Mr. Shersby

Is my hon. Friend aware that the concern in the British record industry about infringement of copyright in sound recording is equal to the concern expressed by the British film industry about infringement of copyright in British films? Will my hon. Friend take urgent action to deal with this problem, as he has done already in supporting the amendment of the copyright law to stamp out video piracy? What consideration has his Department given to the possibility of a levy on the sale of blank tapes?

Mr. Sproat

A levy on blank tapes is one of the possibilities which have been put to us in all the responses which have come in following the Green Paper and which the Government currently are considering. I assure my hon. Friend that I take this matter as seriously as the video piracy business. Perhaps it is an appropriate moment for me to pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the splendid part that he played in getting that Bill through the House some 10 days ago.

Mr. John Fraser

Since it is more difficult to control home taping, would not a levy be the most equitable way of getting money to the holders of the copyright of records? As for video piracy, will the hon. Gentleman now have discussions with the police and the copyright owners about the way in which the recent amendment to the law can be enforced more readily?

Mr. Sproat

On that latter point, discussions with the police are a matter for the Home Department, but I have no doubt that that Department followed our interesting debate and the hon. Gentleman's contribution to it the other day. As for the hon. Gentleman's remarks about audio piracy and the idea of a levy on blank tape, that is one of the suggestions put forward in response to the Green Paper that the Government are considering.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is said—I do not know how much it goes on—that some people actually tape from the BBC the recordings of proceedings in the House in order that those who are on flexible rostering may hear them later? Will my hon. Friend assure the House that nothing will be done to interfere with this? Seriously, is it not difficult to stop people taking the odd copy on their own tapes? The practice is extremely widespread. Short of a home factory, I do not see what can be done to stop it.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend pinpoints with his customary accuracy one of the real difficulties that we face. I did not know that people were recording what was said in the House, but no doubt they find some contributions more valuable than others.