UK Copyright Modernisation Effort Picks Up Steam 31/08/2011 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Efforts to modernise Britain’s creaking copyright regime sped up over the summer as the government accepted recommendations for major changes to the system, Parliament opened an inquiry into the matter, and the Intellectual Property Office said updating the rules could significantly boost the UK economy. The recommended changes came in an 18 May government-commissioned “digital opportunity” review headed by Ian Hargreaves, Digital Economy Chair at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff Business School (IPW, Copyright, 18 May 2011). Among other things, the review suggested the creation of a “digital copyright exchange” to attach automated digital rights and conditions information to copyrighted material, a one-stop shop for cross-border licensing, and new laws allowing format-sifting. It also strongly urged the UK to make IP policy based on evidence, not lobbying. The government responded [pdf] to the Hargreaves review in early August, generally accepting all 10 recommendations and laying out new strategies for international IP [pdf] and IP crime [pdf]. It agreed that the nation’s IP system was lagging behind and that changes to digital copying and licensing were needed. It backed the idea of a digital copyright exchange so long as it is commercially attractive to rights owners and buyers. And the government said it will rethink the current ban on private copying and publish proposals this fall to open up the copyright exceptions regime. But it backed away from plans to force internet service providers to block sites containing copyright-protected material. On 16 August, the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee announced an inquiry into the recommendations of the Hargreaves review and the government response. Written evidence is due 5 September at firstname.lastname@example.org. The link for more information is here. IPO Predicts Major Economic Boost In a supporting economic impact document [pdf], the Intellectual Property Office said in late August that the government’s proposed IP revamp could save the British economy up to £780 million and bring in nearly £8 billion annually [note: £1 = US$1.63]. Despite the UK’s high-tech capabilities, processes for searching and clearing rights “are bound by old constraints,” the IPO said. A digital copyright exchange licensing system could have a growth impact of £2.2 billion each year, it said. Better cross-border licensing could bring in around £600,000,000 annually, and a system for licensing orphan works – those whose rights owners cannot be identified or located – another £300,000,000, it said. Another potential money-maker for the UK economy would be to let consumers format-shift protected content for private use, the Hargreaves report said. Revising exceptions to include a private copying right, and allowing copyrighted material to be used for parody, could bring in around £2.6 billion annually, it said. The economic impact of other exceptions, such as format-shifting for archives and creation of library archival copies, cannot be quantified, it said. Patent, Enforcement Changes Less Quantifiable The Hargreaves review also tackled patent policy issues such as the EU patent and patent court, and patent thickets. A single European patent system could boost the UK economy by £2.1 billion per year, the IPO said, but is dependent on international consensus. Reducing patent thickets and other obstacles to innovation either have no economic impact or are difficult to gauge without international cooperation, it said. Hargreaves also suggested the creation of IP small claims courts with the Patent County Courts for low monetary value claims. While a streamlined and automated system is likely to bring positive benefits for the economy by allowing small and mid-sized companies to innovate with less fear of expensive litigation, there is no evidence yet to quantify its effect on growth, the IPO said. The good news is that the government supports the Hargreaves recommendations, but it remains to be seen what policies will come from it, Open Rights Group Campaigner Peter Bradwell told Intellectual Property Watch. The IPO report does not simply rubber-stamp the recommendations but provides more input to help move the process forward, he said. A government consultation on a proposed IP policy is the next key step, he said. Separately, the IPO and Crown Prosecution Service said they are partnering to train 350 prosecutors in England and Wales to build successful cases against counterfeiters and pirates. The move is in line with the Hargreaves review of IP and growth and the government’s IP crime strategy, they said on 28 August. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Dugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."UK Copyright Modernisation Effort Picks Up Steam" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.