Posts Tagged ‘Intellectual Property Office’

Copyright Barks And Reality Bites

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Perhaps it’s the fine August weather, but the announcement of support by the UK Government for all  ten fairly sensible recommendations on Intellectually Property reform (by the last independent Review of Intellectual Property), gives rise to some optimism about the future of copyright and other forms of IP, in the UK at least.

The press release, which can be found on the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website, states that Ministers have accepted the recommendations “which estimate a potential benefit to the UK economy of up to £7.9 billion.”  Who can argue with those numbers at a time of sorely needed economic growth, I wonder?

Anyway, it goes on to highlight some of the key recommendations including:

  • A Digital Copyright Exchange – i.e. a market place where licences to copyright content can be bought or sold. The question to answer is how such an exchange will look and work.
  • Limited Private Copying – also known as format shifting; whereby it will no longer be illegal to copy legally purchased content from one format to another (e.g. from CD to PC). This one is just a reality update, in my opinion.
  • Copyright Exception for Parody – basically introduces a new exception to Copyright that will make it legal to parody someone else’s work without seeking prior permission.
  • Copyright Exception for Text and Data Mining – another exception to legalise the use of existing search and analysis techniques for research (e.g. medicinal or pharmaceutical research)
  • Clearance for the use of Orphan Works – Resolves a particularly vexing issue that prevents the legal use of Orphan Works (i.e. where no owner can be identified).
  • Evidence Based Future Policy on IP – This makes the case for future IP policies to be backed by solid evidence. This is an interesting one which may well be decided by execution in spite of its noble sentiment.

Also, according to the press release, “a new intellectual property crime strategy and international strategy for intellectual property have been published”, to direct the enforcement of IP crimes and issues at home and abroad.

As you can imagine, there’s been lots of reaction to this and other interesting developments, (e.g. the decision, by OFCOM, to drop the Digital Economy Act provision for website-blocking which would compel ISPs to block sites that host copyright infringing content). But there’s always a certain amount of fear mongering and doom saying associated with any such announcement and, in my opinion, they don’t amount to much until the words are turned into action by their execution – which will effectively make or break original intentions. In any case, I sincerely hope this development will help to bring a new era for Copyright leadership, in the same country where it all started, with the Statute of Anne!

Disclosure: This author helped to gather and draft the Institute’s response to the Independent Review’s Call for Evidence earlier this year.


The March of Copyright

March 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Nowadays, I feel less inclined to explore symptoms but rather prefer to focus on dealing with what I regard as the key causes of the problems with creative industries and digital content. In case it is not obvious, I am talking about Copyright, and the urgent need to evolve the damn thing, as a major culprit.

In the medical profession, a common approach to treating sick people involves:

  • an examination of the medical history and immediate symptoms (plus medical tests / consultation with other experts as necessary)
  • initial diagnosis based on the facts (and level of expertise / experience with similar cases)
  • a prescription or recommendation for the best possible treatment (may not always be the cheapest)
  • follow up and, if necessary, repeat the above steps until the patient is finally cured

Unfortunately, in this case, the patient is the creative industry, and the symptoms include a constant diarrhoea-like stream of headlines, lawsuits, and various half-baked initiatives; the diagnosis is a multi-vector attack of huge transformational forces that demand fundamental change in the way we do business; and finally, to my mind, the treatment would involve making far-reaching and painful changes to existing culture (and how we value and perceive creative works), as well as a major re-working of the global copyright system.

Thankfully, some initiatives and forthcoming events appear well placed to help move us forward in this direction, mainly by kick-starting the necessary dialogues / processes to evolve copyright into a more effective instrument and universal framework for the emerging digital world. A couple of these event include:

1. The World Copyright Summit – This is a packed two-day conference that will debate and explore the opportunities and challenges facing creative industries, and all content creators, in this transitional phase of the digital revolution (More info on the website at: Judging from the excellent speaker line-up, and the four streams in the conference agenda, this should be an excellent event that draws input from all key stakeholders, and which will hopefully map out a clearer vision on how they can engage better with each other in order to realise the huge potentials of a hyper-connected world (i.e. where the rules must evolve rapidly to match the immense changes brought about by digital technology). In my opinion, this is one to attend if you can make it, and I shall try my best to cover this event as it happens.

2. UK Copyright Consultation – This UK initiative (previously mentioned here) is still ongoing, and has so far elicited over 120 responses, (as well as various workshops and consumer discussions), according to aprogress letter from the CEO of UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). You can still make your voices heard by responding with comments directly to the UK Intellectual Property Office via their website. Furthermore, an independent Strategic Advisory Body for IP (SABIP) has also published a paper on the strategic priorities for copyright.

In conclusion, just like the current G20 Summit, these events are aimed precisely at finding a way to get us out of the mess in which we currently find ourselves, be it the global economic recession or the sickly content industry business models. I also believe that these think / talk fests are a great way to pull together the right input from key stakeholders; but they are only ever likely to realise true value if the outcomes lead to clear and measurable actions that help guide the next crucial steps in the evolution of copyright, (or indeed the world economy), into a universal framework that will better support the ongoing global cultural evolution.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.