Copyright Barks And Reality Bites
Perhaps it’s the fine August weather, but the announcement of support by the UK Government for all ten fairly sensible recommendations on Intellectually Property reform (by the last independent Review of Intellectual Property), gives rise to some optimism about the future of copyright and other forms of IP, in the UK at least.
The press release, which can be found on the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website, states that Ministers have accepted the recommendations “which estimate a potential benefit to the UK economy of up to £7.9 billion.” Who can argue with those numbers at a time of sorely needed economic growth, I wonder?
Anyway, it goes on to highlight some of the key recommendations including:
- A Digital Copyright Exchange – i.e. a market place where licences to copyright content can be bought or sold. The question to answer is how such an exchange will look and work.
- Limited Private Copying – also known as format shifting; whereby it will no longer be illegal to copy legally purchased content from one format to another (e.g. from CD to PC). This one is just a reality update, in my opinion.
- Copyright Exception for Parody – basically introduces a new exception to Copyright that will make it legal to parody someone else’s work without seeking prior permission.
- Copyright Exception for Text and Data Mining – another exception to legalise the use of existing search and analysis techniques for research (e.g. medicinal or pharmaceutical research)
- Clearance for the use of Orphan Works – Resolves a particularly vexing issue that prevents the legal use of Orphan Works (i.e. where no owner can be identified).
- Evidence Based Future Policy on IP – This makes the case for future IP policies to be backed by solid evidence. This is an interesting one which may well be decided by execution in spite of its noble sentiment.
Also, according to the press release, “a new intellectual property crime strategy and international strategy for intellectual property have been published”, to direct the enforcement of IP crimes and issues at home and abroad.
As you can imagine, there’s been lots of reaction to this and other interesting developments, (e.g. the decision, by OFCOM, to drop the Digital Economy Act provision for website-blocking which would compel ISPs to block sites that host copyright infringing content). But there’s always a certain amount of fear mongering and doom saying associated with any such announcement and, in my opinion, they don’t amount to much until the words are turned into action by their execution – which will effectively make or break original intentions. In any case, I sincerely hope this development will help to bring a new era for Copyright leadership, in the same country where it all started, with the Statute of Anne!