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Digital Copyright Exchange feasibility study - final report published

Archived news: 31 July 2012

Today Richard Hooper published Copyright Works: streamling copyright licensing for the digital age. This is the final report for the Feasibility Study into the Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE).

Copyright Works: streamling copyright licensing for the digital age identifies the good work already underway to address the seven issues highlighted in the Phase 1 diagnostic report: Rights and Wrong: is copyright licensing fit for purpose for the digital age.

But the report says there is no room for complacency and work remains to be done.

"Streamlining copyright licensing for the digital age will remain a constant requirement of the creative and cultural industries in the UK. Like innovation or modernisation, it never has an end point."

The main recommendation from the report is the development of a Copyright Hub which will serve a number of functions including:

  • Information and copyright education
  • Registries of rights
  • A marketplace for rights - licensing solutions
  • Help with the orphan works problem

Mr Hooper said:

"If the UK is to maintain and improve its position as world leader in the creative industries then it needs an efficient and responsive copyright licensing system to manage the use of creative rights.
"Setting up an industry-led and industry-funded Copyright Hub will help maximise the potential for creators and rights owners on the supply side and the wide range of licensees and users on the demand side."

Sarah Faulder, CEO of the Publishers’ Licensing Society said:

"Richard Hooper's phase two report Copyright Works, sets out a focused and worthwhile vision of a multi-faceted copyright hub to explain and streamline the process of copyright licensing.  Making it easier to get appropriate copyright licences will benefit both rights holders and those who want to build their businesses on copyright content or otherwise be able to use copyright material lawfully.
"By recognising existing good practice, stimulating new initiatives in the course of his work and identifying issues that need urgent attention, Richard has encouraged the creative industries to collaborate and he has motivated them to take forward his vision. The scale of the task ahead in order to turn his vision into reality should not, however, be underestimated."

For further information, see the Intellectual Property Office website or click here to read the press release.

In earlier news

Government Policy Statement: Consultation on Modernising Copyright

03 July 2012

We welcome the government's statement in a policy document released on 02 July that it "wants to ensure copyright makes the greatest possible contribution to UK economic growth and to our society". Click here to read the policy document.

In particular, we welcome the assurances on proposals to be brought forward in the near future:

1) On extended collective licensing ("ECL"):

The government assures us that:

    i) A collecting society applying for ECL will be required to demonstrate that it is significantly representative of rights holders affected by the scheme.

    ii) A collecting society applying for ECL will be required to demonstrate that it had the support of its members for the application.

    iii) A collecting society applying for ECL will need to have in place a code of conduct, to ensure minimum standards of governance, transparency and protection for non-member rights holders.

    iv) A rights holder will always retain the capacity to opt out of an ECL scheme.

2) On orphan works - those for which authors or performers cannot be located:

The government assures us that:

        • ...permission should come at an appropriate price – a market rate, to the extent that one can be established (though the difficulties that may attend establishing that, for example in respect of works not created for publication that are in museums’ collections, are noted).

        • This price should be payable in advance (or at agreed times if there is a royalty element) and set aside for any rights holders who may still appear even after a diligent search has not found them.

        • Licences will, necessarily, be non-exclusive.

        • Moral rights should be respected and protected. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it will be assumed that moral rights have not been waived and that all orphan works should be attributed to their authors, where their names are known.
        • The scheme will not take the form of an exception to copyright, but will be based on authorisation by an independent body, i.e. not the same body which wishes to exploit the orphan work

Significant issues remain, however, and must be addressed before creators will accept that these proposals indeed support the creative economy and do not undermine their capability to make a living as the dedicated professionals it needs as its foundation if it is to be sustainable.

As we said in our submission, via the Creators' Rights Alliance, to the government's consultation on these proposals:

    "There is no point in legislating ever so carefully for proper remuneration through extended collective licensing, or for exceptions to copyright bearing a right of remuneration, if publishers and broadcasters can then inform creators that they must sign over all such income, or never work in the industry again. Such offered contracts are commonplace and are documented for example in the regular British Photographic Council surveys."

There are also issue around the ease with which creators can be pressured into waiving their rights to be identified and to defend the integrity of their work - rights which are as important to the citizen who wants to know that the work they are paying for is what it says it is as they are to the citizen who creates works.

Together with other CRA member organisations, we remain concerned about the apparent rush to bring forward legislation and the indications that this may be done in a way that will restrict scrutiny of the proposed law in the House of Commons.

  • Click here to read our submission to the government consultation on copyright.

The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property: where next?

27 June 2012

On 27 June the Government’s Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee published a report: The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property: where next? Click here to read the Report.

The Report acknowledges that a considerable amount of high-quality work on policy development has been undertaken in the year since publication of the Hargreaves Review, and the BIS Committee advises that sufficient conclusions can be drawn to allow the Government to implement new policy. It recommends that the Government acts swiftly to bring in legislation to that effect.

We are concerned at the emphasis on haste, and will keep a very close eye on developments. We will of course continue to use our best endeavours to ensure that authors' interests are protected.

The background

In November 2010 David Cameron announced an Independent Review of how the intellectual property framework supports growth and innovation (intellectual property includes copyright). The Society responded to Professor Ian Hargreaves’s Call for Evidence and subsequent Consultation.

The Review reported in May 2011 making ten recommendations which Professor Hargreaves claimed are designed to ensure that the UK ‘has an IP framework best suited to supporting innovation and promoting economic growth in the digital age’. Click here to read the Review.

In August 2011 the Government set out the range of actions it would take in response to the Review, and in December it launched a further Consultation paper regarding its proposals. Amongst other things, the Society's submission broadly welcomed the proposals for orphan works and codes of conduct for collecting societies. We were deeply concerned about the proposals to extend copyright exceptions, particularly in the educational sphere.

We also gave a detailed response to the proposal for a Digital Copyright Exchange. (Click here to read the SoA submission).  In addition, the Society (via the British Copyright Council) commented on the proposals for an IP County Court. (Click here to read the BCC submission)

In March 2012 Richard Hooper published his diagnostic report on whether copyright licensing was fit for purpose in the digital age - the first phase of the Digital Copyright Exchange Feasibility Study. The report concluded that relative to those of other countries, the UK’s copyright licensing processes compare well but that there was much that still could be improved.

The latest step has been the BIS Report. Click here to read the Report.

You can view all recent submissions made by the Society of Authors on our Submissions page.



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