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Business News (more headlines) 09-13-2009

Entertainment Retailers Say Illegal Filesharing "Is Bleeding Our Industry Dry"

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Paul Quirk, newly elected Chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, has told the association's Annual General Meeting that illegal P2P filesharing is the greatest challenge facing entertainment retailers and urged members to lobby Government for a crackdown on a problem he said "is bleeding our industry dry".

Quirk also revealed that booming membership among digital services makes ERA now "the de facto representative body of the UK's digital entertainment sector".

Speaking at the association's annual general meeting, Quirk said, "Too often the debate over illegal filesharing is portrayed as an ideological battle, but for us this is a commercial matter. Illegal filesharing is damaging our businesses, both physical and digital, on a daily basis, and the Government needs to tackle it swiftly and decisively in order to protect jobs, businesses and investment.

"First the filesharers targeted the music business and the Government did nothing. Now the filesharers have come again for TV and movies. Unless action is taken the filesharers will come for computer games, books, in fact anything which can be digitised and what will be at stake will be not just the entertainment industry but huge swathes of the UK economy. We need action now."

ERA is working alongside organisations right across the creative industry to maintain pressure on the Government on illegal filesharing, said Quirk.

Only this week ERA signed up to be part of the Creative Coalition Campaign which brings together employers and trade unions to highlight the harm done by illegal P2P.

Quirk welcomed recent indications that Government recognises the urgency of the issue.

And he dismissed the idea that suspending the internet service of hardcore filesharers would be an abuse of human rights or would hit people who are also music buyers.

"No one has a human right to fileshare illegally any more than they have a human right to shoplift," said Quirk. "And the idea that some filesharers should be immune from sanctions because they occasionally pay for music is equally ridiculous. Just because nine times out of ten when I drive my car I obey the speed limit, that doesn't give me immunity when I do break the law."

ERA reinvents itself as digital services flock to join

Quirk told the ERA AGM that the association is continuing to re-engineer the organisation to ensure it properly represents the changing entertainment retailing business.

He said "Not only does ERA now represent the UK's top four supermarkets, we have three of the UK's top four mobile phone operators among our members. With ISPs also on the membership roll and fully 20% of our members involved in digital retail or services, we can now claim not only to represent traditional retail, independent retail and big retail but also to be the de facto representative body of the UK's digital entertainment business."

Among those joining ERA in the past year were 247 Entertainment, AEI Media, Audiotube, Datz, DX3, emusic, Global Media Vault, Greenpod, Head Entertainment, Imperial Music, Indulge, Media Vault, Morrisons, Movie Mall, Music Box Leisure, People, Raves from the Grave, T-Mobile and We7.

In elections to the board of ERA Paul Quirk was elected Chairman, Ben Drury (7 Digital) was elected Deputy Chairman and Graham Lambdon (VHS Distribution) was elected Treasurer. In addition Julian Monaghan (Amazon) was re-elected to the board and new members Philip Shepherd (247 Entertainment), Andrew Ground (Lovefilm) and Brad Aspess (Rare Music and DVDs) were also elected.

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