Give IPO ‘enforcing’ powers to take action against copyright theft, says Labour

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Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has called for the Intellectual Property Office to be given powers to police breaches of copyright.

Speaking at the Labour Party's Creative Industries Network event, Harman said the IPO should work in a similar way to the Environment Agency and be able to take action against people who breach copyright, patents or trademarks.

She said: "We have been talking about robust intellectual property protection, and I think that this should not in any way be a defensive argument. Why should we feel any less bad about somebody stealing a creative work as stealing a handbag, and why doesn't the IPO be more like the Environment Agency - not just setting the parameters but also enforcing them when they are breached?"

Harman said Labour was concentrating on five main policy areas for the creative industries. As well as intellectual property rights, these are supporting exports, increasing access for young people, developing a regional strategy recognising that Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions are not "London light" and improving the sector's access to finance.

"It's such an irony that we have the global financial hub of the City and yet they don't seem to be able to lend to anybody," said Harman. "I do think that they should stop calling themselves investment banks because they don't seem to do any investing - it seems that the public is investing in them rather than the other way round. But we have been talking about how we get access to finance for start-ups, for small to medium and medium to large companies."

Fellow Labour MP Chuka Umunna added: "We are alone in the G8 in being the only country that does not have a state- sponsored investment institution which truly deserves to be called an investment institution.

"So we want to set one up and we are hoping that will help people in your [the creative] industries."