UK launches informal consultation on the future of copyright

On 16 December 2008 the UK Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills launched an informal consultation on the future direction of copyright. The aim of the consultation is to build on the Gower’s Report released in 2006 and ensure that the copyright system properly supports creative industries in the UK in the light of digital developments over the last decade. With the current debate on online piracy and the liability of ISPs for peer to peer file sharing being pursued by rights holders in the UK and globally, it will be interesting to see how the results of this consultation are used to shape the UK Government’s policy towards online copyright infringements.

The document identifies four key areas for discussion:

  • Access to works: questioning the complexity of the current system in particular in relation to the licensing of rights, rights clearance and copyright exceptions.
  • Encouraging creativity: asking if the current copyright system provides the right incentives to sustain investment and support creativity for both physical and online exploitation.
  • Recognising creative input: investigating the balance between commercial certainty and the rights of creators and creative artist in the current system. Are creative artists sufficiently rewarded/ protected through their existing rights?
  • Validating works: quuestioning what action, if any, is needed to address issues related to authentication? In considering the rights of creative artists and other rights holders is there a case for differentiation?

David Lammy, the Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, says in the foreword to the paper:

The creative industries are vital to economic and cultural prosperity of the UK. It is therefore important that the UK’s copyright system – the framework by which creators are rewarded and recognised – supports creativity, promotes investment and job growth while also inspiring business and consumer confidence”.

Alongside the consultation, the department will run a series of meetings and events to debate the key issues and possible solutions. Responses are due by February 2009 and the department’s aim is to publish a discussion paper on the topic in Spring 2009.


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