§ Mr. David Steel
asked the Minister for Trade (1) when he expects to conclude his consultations following the Green Paper on copyright;
(2) what evidence he has received in response to the Green Paper on copyright;
(3) when he expects to introduce legislation to amend the Copyright Act 1956;
(4) whether he has had consultations with the record and video industries concerning the level of copyright infringement;
(5) what evidence he has as to the level of audio and video piracy;
(6) what progress he has made in consultation with other European Economic Community countries on the harmonisation of copyright law; and when he expects such consultations to be concluded.
§ Dr. Vaughan
Since the Green Paper on "Copyright, Designs and Performers' Protection", Cmnd. 8302, was published in July 1981, my Department has received 180 written responses. They relate to all aspects of the subject.
On 24 March this year, in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Porter)—[Vol. 20, c. 179]—I announced that I would like all comments on the Green Paper to reach my Department by the end of August. The Commission of the European Communities expects to publish a memorandum later this year as a preliminary towards harmonisation of copyright law throughout the Community, and the setting of the Green Paper response deadline was necessary to ensure that we can enter the subsequent negotiations within the 171W Community with a full knowledge of the needs of the United Kingdom interests. No consultations have yet taken place within the Community. Because of these Community considerations it is not yet possible to say when new copyright legislation can be introduced.
Bodies representing the record and video industries have sent comments on the Green Paper to my Department, and they have indicated their concern at the level of copyright infringement in certain areas. In addition, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre), the then Under-Secretary of State, when he was responsible for copyright, met representatives of the record industry to discuss the matter. More recently my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has received representations from various sectors of the film and video industry on video piracy.
According to the 1982 year book of the British Phonographic Industries Limited the level of piracy of gramophone records and audio tapes in the United Kingdom is less than 5 per cent. of the total retail turnover. However, a recent survey commissioned by the British Videogram Association suggests that as many as 75 per cent. fo the video cassettes available for retail sale may be pirate copies. In an Adjournment debate on 11 June on video piracy, initated by my hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Sir P. Bryan), my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State reiterated the Government's concern at the growth of video piracy and their intention to strengthen and improve remedies available to copyright owners.