Wednesday 5 December 2012

A pre-emptive strike for rights?

Following on from John and Elonora's blogs on moves to update copyright law in the European Union, and of course the ongoing moves to reform intellectual property law in the UK in the aftermath of the Hargreaves Review, comes news that a group of creators and copyright owners are urging the UK government to reconsider impending changes to copyright law which they say would seriously restrict the ability of British creators and copyright holders to license and earn revenue from their rights - buy widening and redefining exceptions to copyright infringement - perhaps to something more akin to the US 'Fair Use' doctrines.

Organisations representing a wide cross section of UK creators and businesses including art, music, film, TV, print and publishing, argue that the broad scope of potential copyright exceptions set to be announced later this month by the Intellectual Property Office, will damage both economic and cultural growth. Signatories include the Artists Collection Society, the Bridgeman Library, the BPI, the major record labels' association, The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), PRS for Music, PPL, The Musicians Union, The British Video Association, The Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Newspaper Licensing Agency. 

The exceptions they seem to be agitated by are expected to be for (a) private copying (b) use of works for education (c) wider exceptions for public performance (d) a new exception for parody and pastiche and (e) exceptions for text and data mining. Instead the group supports an alternative proposal Licensing UK that supports creators’ rights to license businesses where value is being created. 

In a press release the Group says that the proposal has been sent to Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and to the IPO in advance of the policy decision being finalised which should be by the end of 2012 and their new website says 

"Government is set on a course to introduce substantial new copyright exceptions that will take away the rights of creators to license their creative endeavours and the ability to make a return on the investment in producing their works. The UK is an exporter of creative content, talent and services. We are global leaders, in what we create, in our growing digital businesses in terms of the volumes of licences granted to facilitate legitimate services. Extending exceptions sends out a damaging signal that the UK government does not care about the rights of creators or their ability to earn licensing revenue. 

Creators and creative organisations call simply for the right to license their works to others at the point at which creative content creates value for them. Removing the right to license impedes the ability to create commercially viable services as business models evolve. The creative sector is forward-looking. It is actively promoting copyright licensing solutions, especially in support of the partnerships with tech companies with whom they are developing new digital business models." 

And the website explains that Licensing UK is an alternative regime that "Rather than taking away creators’ rights and forcing divisions between creators and consumers, we call on the Government to work with creators, creative businesses and consumers" to ensure that 

1. Creators can be paid a fair price for the use of their creations and producers and distributors investing in those creations can achieve a fair return on their investments through balanced negotiations. 

2. Access to content by consumers should be as straightforward as possible, at a fair price. 

3. Businesses can connect the two and provide sustainable services to creators and consumers.

More information about Licensing UK can be found on the PRS for Music website   

The full consultation document is available here


Andy J said...

This kind of response is hardlly a surprise, but clearly they chose the front organisations carefully to give the outward impression of being for the benefit of authors and composers (hence the collecting societies). This in contrast to similar lobbying in Australia where the hand of the big entertainment corporations is much more evident: Techdirt article.

Anonymous said...

Who is "they" and why are these "front groups"

Are you saying it's a giant conspiracy?

Please explain.