Digital Opportunity – the Hargreaves review on IP and growth

It’s time for a serious shake-up of the UK’s ageing IP laws such as the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act or 1994 Trade Mark Act to bring the law in the UK into line with today’s digital era and keep the economy competitive by promoting innovation.

The publication of Digital Opportunity follows a six-month independent review of IP and Growth, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves. He was tasked to consider how the national and international IP system can best work to promote innovation and growth.

The review puts forward 10 recommendations that include:

> the UK should have a "Digital Copyright Exchange": a digital market place where licences in copyright content can be readily bought and sold, a sort of online copyright shop;

> the Government should legislate to permit access to orphan works, where the owner cannot be traced. For example some copyrighted works remain locked away because their authors either aren’t known or can’t be traced to give permission for use. In the worst cases, where one owner cannot be located - just one out of hundreds contained in a film or TV programme - they can effectively hold the interests of others to ransom as it becomes a criminal offence to exploit that work commercially.

> updating what it is lawful to copy. This includes copying for private purposes (such as shifting music from a laptop to an mp3 player) and copying which does not conflict with the core aims of copyright – for example, digital copying of medical and other journals for computerised analysis in research. For example an academic working on malaria cannot draw on previous research through data mining because they cannot get permission to copy the datasets they need to mine;

> Limits to copyright. Government should firmly resist over-regulation of activities which do not prejudice the central objective of copyright, namely the provision of incentives to creators. Government should deliver copyright exceptions at national level to realise all the opportunities within the EU framework, including format shifting, parody, non-commercial research, and library archiving. The UK should also promote at EU level an exception to support text and data analytics. The UK should give a lead at EU level to develop a further copyright exception designed to build into the EU framework adaptability to new technologies. This would be designed to allow uses enabled by technology of works in ways which do not directly trade on the underlying creative and expressive purpose of the work. The Government should also legislate to ensure that these and other copyright exceptions are protected from override by contract;

> the Government’s IP policy decisions need to be more closely based on economic evidence and should pay more attention to the impact on non-rights holders and consumers;

> changes to the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) powers to enable it to help the IP framework adapt to future economic and technological change.

Launching his report today Professor Hargreaves said:
"In recent years, the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet. My recommendations set out how the IP framework can promote innovation and economic growth in the UK economy...
"The recommendations of the review are designed to enhance the economic potential of the UK's creative industries and to ensure that the emergence of high technology businesses, especially smaller businesses, in other sectors is not impeded by our IP laws."

The report suggests that overhauling the IP and copyright laws could translate into a boost to the economy by as much as £7.9bn

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