Industry welcomes recommendations on IP in UK

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The European Publishers Council (EPC), the British Library and JISC are among the organisations that have welcomed the recommendations made to the UK Government by the Hargreaves Review.

These recommendations propose an intellectual property framework designed to increase growth and innovation in the UK. Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: 'This is a critical moment in the development of an intellectual property framework that is fit for the 21st century. The report has recognised the importance of copyright in the digital age to education and research. Hargreaves’ recommendations, including those relating to the digitisation of orphan works, text and data mining, and digital preservation will have an immediate benefit for research, life-long learning and teaching. I particularly welcome the recommendations for legislation to ensure that hard won copyright exceptions are protected and cannot be overridden by individual contracts.'

The Library also supported measures to allow text and data mining with a view to encouraging medical, environmental and other scientific research – along with streamlined processes for clearing rights for commercially-produced works to be used in digital libraries and other cultural projects.

Brindley also praised the proposal to create the world’s first Digital Copyright Exchange by the end of 2012. The British Library’s submission to the Hargreaves Review called for reforms to make it easier for cultural institutions to digitise Orphan Works – including millions of items held in national collections where the rights-holder cannot be identified – and thereby deliver benefits for research and education. 

Meanwhile, the EPC welcomed the fact that the Hargreaves Review is not advocating that the UK Government should itself create this Digital Copyright Exchange but rather bring together all relevant interests with the aim of establishing a network of interoperable databases to provide a common platform for licensing transactions. 

The EPC is demonstrating its own rights expressions and clearing project at the EU’s Digital Assembly in Brussels on 17 June an idea selected by Commissioner Neelie Kroes and her department as one of just seven “Big Ideas” to be progressed to help grow the digital economy. The EPC’s idea, which was cited in the Hargreaves Report, centres on standardising rights expressions and automating transactions to facilitate a fully functioning “copyright-aware” internet.

Angela Mills Wade, EPC’s executive director said: 'We support the recommendation that Government has a role in sponsoring the steps needed for the market to establish itself. What is crucial is something that can be easily adopted by other countries, that will scale elegantly and that can be defined and developed by the market, not by regulators.  A 21st century workable standards infrastructure is the essential first step to fulfilling the report’s claim of making “the UK the best place in the world to do business in digital content”.'

Malcolm Read, JISC executive secretary, also commented on the recommendations: 'We support the key findings in the report which we anticipate will help optimise the impact of UK research and enable our world class universities to fully contribute towards innovation and growth.'

For universities and colleges he sees the exceptions for preservation, text mining and orphan works provision as crucial for allowing and encouraging digitisation, preservation, access and re-use of digital content as well as supporting research and learning. He also believes it is important to ensure that copyright exceptions cannot be over-ridden by contract law and to build an exception into EU framework to facilitate adaptability to new technologies.

Other recommended exceptions which JISC welcomes include the exceptions for parody and format shifting as well as extending the exception for non commercial research to all media.