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Justin Cooke

Silicon Roundabout and Digital Industry Leaders Welcome Government’s Response to Hargreaves IP Report

Posted by August 3, 2011
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BIMA and other leading organisations from the Silicon Roundabout community and the broader digital economy has responded enthusiastically to the Government’s response, released today, to Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth.

Alongside the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), BCS—The Chartered Institute for IT and TechHub, BIMA believes that the Review, which was published by Professor Ian Hargreaves in May, represents a milestone for the UK digital economy. It 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 change.

Today the Government came down firmly in support of the Review and committed to implement its recommendations as soon as practicable. The undersigned organisations welcome in particular the Government’s commitment to:

Expand the range of copyright exceptions to include private copying (format-shifting), library archiving, non-commercial research and parody, and ensure that the exceptions cannot be overridden by contract. These exceptions will both bring the law into line with practice and permit wider uses of copyrighted materials without undermining the purpose of copyright.

Pursue at EU level an exception for text- and data-mining for commercial research, including especially medical and scientific research. Opening text- and data-mining to the widest range of innovative thinkers will be one of the most effective tools in promoting scientific progress in the 21st century and is sure to lead to many vital medical and scientific discoveries.

Create an orphan works scheme, and pursue extended collective licensing proposals. Too much of what society has created is locked away because its creators cannot be found, and these schemes have the potential to open up important works for public consumption.

Allocate copyright enforcement resources to the most serious problems, including especially organised criminal activities. This commitment implicitly acknowledges that there is a difference between the incidental and inadvertent forms of copyright infringement that are realities of Internet use and do little harm to creators, on the one hand, and the more malicious, widespread behaviour that actually undermines the incentives copyright is intended to create, on the other.

Give the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) expanded resources and powers, in particular to issue copyright opinions. The pace of technological change means that future-proofing copyright law is essential, and the IPO is in the best position to monitor developments and bring forward modifications as needed.

Assist with the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange, and in particular ensure that rights holders are incentivised to participate in it. The success of a DCE will depend on having near-universal participation, and while compulsory participation would not comply with international law, a strong system of incentives will give the DCE a chance of being the revolutionary tool it is intended to be.

Jeff Lynn, Chairman of Coadec, said: Those of us who believe that the future of Britain’s economy depends largely on the digital innovations occurring among the Silicon Roundabout community and throughout the country are very happy with the Government’s response to the Hargreaves recommendations. We applaud strongly the commitment to making these pivotally important changes a reality, and we look forward to working with the Government on the detail of each of the forthcoming proposals and consultations.

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