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UK Review on IP and Growth Calls for Implementation of all available copyright flexibilities

On May 18th, Ian Hargreaves, Professor of Journalism at Cardiff University, published a report entitled “Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth”.

According to UK Prime Minister James Cameron, who commissioned the report, the review was needed because the current IP framework in the UK might not be well designed to promote innovation and growth.

The review starts out by highlighting the increasing importance of knowledge in the advanced economies. For example, IP related investment has now come to exceed tangible investment such as real estate and machinery in the UK.

With regards to copyright exceptions, the review holds that the provision of limitations and exceptions have failed to keep up with technological and social change. Outdated rules prevent new technologies from utilizing their full potential, which is particularly the case in the context of research institutions. Universities often spend substantial sums of public money to access works which have been produced by public research institutions in the first place. The report calls for the government to act to provide a legal basis for private copying (presently not legally permitted) as well as format shifting, parody, non-commercial research tools, and library archiving.

Hargreaves summarizes recent technological advances and points to future developments which will further challenge the current notion of copyright such as cloud computing and the Internet of things. He concludes that new technologies have transformed the creative industries and will continue to do so until digital business models have been established around the new terms and conditions at which digital goods and services will be priced in the global markets.

Key recommendations of the review on copyright, limitations & exceptions:

  1. Development of the IP System needs to be evidence-based and stay clear of and avoid “lobbynomics”. Policy should balance economic objectives against social goals and potential benefits for rights holders against impacts on consumers.
  2. There is a need for an open, cross-sectorial Digital Copyright Exchange to license across delivery technologies (such as MP3, e-Reader standards etc.). Such a platform will reduce transaction costs for digital services and provide an opportunity for collecting societies to extend their services. Potentially harmful effects resulting from the monopoly situation of collecting societies will be mitigated if collecting societies are required to operate transparently and to common standards.
  3. There is a need for legislature to enable mass licensing of orphan works and a clearance procedure for use of individual works. A work should be considered an orphan if it cannot be found on the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange platform. The license fee for orphan works should be held by the collecting society until the owner is identified, or a reasonable period of time elapses.
  4. There should be national copyright exceptions, in line with the EU framework, to provide better opportunities for private copying and format shifting, parody, non-commercial research tools, and library archiving. Government should focus on the main objective of copyright, namely the provision of incentives to creators and abstain from trying to protect business models.
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