Last year David Cameron initiated a review of the UK’s IP law – to come up with proposals for how it can further promote entrepreneurialism, economic growth and social and commercial innovation. The review subsequently issued a call for evidence (deadline 4 March). This sets out specific questions but welcomes contributions beyond their scope. Some of the questions are about copyright and some about enforcement.
Given that economic data about copyright is extremely limited, this seems like a good idea in theory, but very ambitious in practice. Won’t it be difficult to conjure up new significant, reliable and balanced economic data in this timeframe?
Perhaps I can help? I wondered. I checked the bottom drawer of my desk. No unpublished economic studies languishing there… How about my own experience? Could that count as a case study?
During the Nineties and the Noughties I spent about fifteen years working in book publishing in editorial and legal capacities. I attended hundreds of editorial meetings and reviewed thousands of book proposals. Some of our authors were certainly groundbreaking economic successes – Nick Hornby and Terry Pratchett spring to mind.
Did copyright law support the publishing business? That’s easy – yes, without it there would be no publishing business. Did copyright law ever get in the way? That’s easy too – no. I never once heard anyone say they couldn’t publish a book because of copyright law (libel law, that’s another story). Is it different in the US? No. Has digitization made a difference? No.
There – that wasn’t so difficult. Next question?