The UK government has launched an initiative aimed at building a framework to protect the intellectual property of the UK creative industries in the digital age.

Launched last night by Arts Minister Estelle Morris and Science and Innovation minister Lord Sainsbury, the new Creative Industries Forum on Intellectual Property is a cross-government body that held its first meeting yesterday.

The group brings together government, non-government and representatives from the creative industry. It is jointly chaired by Arts Minister Estelle Morris and Lord Sainsbury, and includes representatives from the sector: film, music, publishing, design and computer games. It also includes representatives from ISPs, telecoms companies, hardware manufacturers and consumer groups.

The Forum will attempt to determine how to approach the opportunities and threats that rapid technological developments are generating for the creative industries, which contribute £54.8 billion to the UK economy each year.

Issues the Forum hopes to address include:

- Strategies for maximizing the opportunities for the creative industries in a digital environment.
- New business models for that environment.
- Education and awareness raising.
- The challenges that face the sector, such as file-sharing and piracy.

Morris said: "A vibrant, diverse creative sector is important to the UK both culturally and economically. Intellectual Property Rights have always been at the heart of our creative industries - by encouraging and rewarding creativity.

"We've listened to the concerns of our creative industries and know these issues matter, which is why we are joining together to work on a way forward," she added.