As we have previously blogged, Prof Ian Hargreaves published an independent report into intellectual property in the UK in May 2011, titled Digital Opportunity, A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. This independent review was set up by the UK Government in November 2010.
The UK Government has now published its response to the report, announcing plans to modernise UK Intellectual Property to support economic growth. The Government agreed with Hargreaves that the IP framework is falling behind and must adapt to innovation, creativity and new technology.
The Government response adopted a number of the recommendations of the Hargreaves review. The full Government Response is available here. In brief, the key features of the Government’s response are:
– creating a Digital Copyright Exchange, a “digital market place” where copyright licenses can be readily bought and sold;
– introducing a number of new copyright exceptions for limited private purpose copying and parodies.
– widening the exception for non commercial research so that it covers the technique known as ‘text and data mining’;
– creating licensing procedures for ‘orphan works’ (works where the author is unknown);
– the creation of a cross-border licensing framework within the EU;
– publishing minimum standards and voluntary codes for Collecting Societies to increase transparency and good governance; and
– introduce wider exceptions into EU law to provide increased flexibility and adaptability for new technologies, including use of data for research. The Government supported a wider review of EU legislation.
Digital Economy Act
Alongside its response to the Hargreaves Review, the Government made a few important announcements regarding how it plans to move forward with the Digital Economy Act (DEA). See our previous post on the introduction of the DEA here. The Government announced the following:
– ISPs will no longer be required to pay for 25% of the administration costs of OFCOM. This followed the High Court decision of Justice Parker in British Telecommunications v The Secretary of State of Business that the requirement was a breach of EU law (in particular EU Directive 2002/20 Article 12AD). The High Court decision is available here.
– They would not bring forward site blocking regulations under the Digital Economy Act at this time. The Government had asked OFCOM (the communications regulator) to review the provisions of the DEA that allow courts to block websites. OFCOM’s review found that this was “unlikely to be effective because of the slow speed that would be expected from a full court process.” Site operators could change the location of the site before any injunction could come into force.
– Internet users would be charged ₤20 to appeal notices under the DEA. This would be refunded if the appeal was successful. The decision followed a report by OFCOM that identified a risk that the appeals system could be overwhelmed by vexatious appeals.