The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister
The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister
The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Industry and Skills and President of the Board of Trade
The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport
Baroness Wilcox, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Business, Industry and Skills
Dear Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chancellor and Ministers
Urgent Need to Implement the Hargreaves IP Recommendations
The undersigned organisations represent the future of Britain’s digital economy. Our members and supporters are the entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs, professionals and agencies that are working tirelessly to make the United Kingdom the world leader in digital innovation and to create wealth and jobs for the British people.
We have been delighted by the consistent rhetoric of this Government highlighting how crucial Britain’s digital economy is to the country’s future, and we agree wholeheartedly that the sector must play a vital role in supporting the country’s recovery. It is now time for the Government’s fine words to be put into meaningful action if the sector is to flourish and play its role in helping to drive economic growth in the United Kingdom.
We are writing today to express our strongly held view that the Government must move forward with the swift and fulsome implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review of IP and Growth, chaired by Professor Ian Hargreaves, for changes to Britain’s copyright law framework.
Our organisations believe that the Hargreaves report represents a watershed for this country’s digital economy. The report recognises—as many digital businesses and entrepreneurs have known for a long time—that the nation’s intellectual property laws, and in particular copyright law, must adapt to business, social and technological change.
As Professor Hargreaves says, “Laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth.”
The recommendations set forth in the report would, if implemented, go a long way toward righting that imbalance. The recommendations have received strong support from leaders of the Internet economy, and at the recent e-G8 meeting in Paris, they were cited as best practice for copyright law in the digital age.
Innovation and commercialisation by digital businesses is a key component of Britain’s economy and will play an ever-more important role in years to come. In the interest of ensuring that Britain has a dynamic, world-leading digital economy, it is essential that the Government heed the Hargreaves report closely and implement its recommendations thoroughly.
Certain of the recommendations can be implemented by Act of Parliament or statutory instrument, and we call on the Government to draft and introduce the necessary legislation as soon as possible. These recommendations, which we refer to as the “straightforward recommendations”, include:
Adopting exceptions to copyright for format-shifting, parody, non-commercial research and library archiving
Prohibiting copyright exceptions from being overridden by contract
Enabling licensing of orphan works
Giving the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) the power to issue statutory opinions to help clarify copyright law and take other measures to help ensure that Britain’s IP system remains focused on promoting innovation and growth
Causing the IPO to improve the accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies
As you will appreciate, implementation of some of Professor Hargreaves’s other recommendations will be more complicated, either because they require EU involvement or because they are non-legislative measures. These “complex recommendations” include:
Promoting at EU level copyright exceptions for text and data analytics
Promoting the inclusion in the EU framework of a mechanism for adapting copyright exceptions to new technologies as they arise
Supporting moves by the European Commission for establishing a cross-border copyright licensing framework
Facilitating the creation of a comprehensive ‘Digital Copyright Exchange’ through which works can be licensed in a transparent and simple manner
While we believe that it is imperative that the Government begin the necessary processes for implementing the complex recommendations as soon as possible, it must do so without slowing the implementation of the straightforward ones.
We therefore call on the Government to:
Put the straightforward recommendations on a fast track and ensure that they become part of law quickly—preferably before the end of the year, and in no event later than the end of the 2011-2012 Parliamentary session; and Work diligently at EU level and with relevant stakeholders to make the complex recommendations a reality in the shortest timeframe possible.
We would welcome the opportunity to elaborate on our views at any point, either through further communications or in a meeting with you or your officials. Please contact us through The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), at email@example.com or 020 8528 1444.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec)
Jeff Lynn, Chairman
BCS-The Chartered Institute for IT
Ian Ryder, Deputy Chief Executive
Elizabeth Varley, CEO and Co-Founder
British Interactive Media Association (BIMA)
Justin Cooke, Chairman