In November 2010, UK Prime Minister David Cameron set up an independent review committee, chaired by Professor Ian Hargraves. The aim of this review was to determine if the IP framework that exists in the UK was sufficiently well designed to promote innovation and growth in the UK economy, and if not, to make recommendations as to how it might be improved.
The Hargraves Report, titled Digital Opportunity, A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth was released on 18 May 2011. The report found that the UK’s intellectual property framework, particularly copyright, is obstructing innovation and growth. The report made a number of recommendations for reform including:
1) the creation of an efficient digital copyright licensing system;
2) new legislation to enable the licensing of orphan works, to ensure nothing is unusable because the rights owner cannot be found;
3) the introduction of exceptions to copyright infringement for format shifting, parody, non-commercial research, library archiving and text and data analytics;
4) further investigation into the use of patent fees to reduce the number of low value patents, in an effort to prevent “patent thickets” inhibiting innovation; and
5) better access to reliable and affordable IP advice for small businesses.
Australia has already enacted legislative exceptions for parody and format-shifting, but will no doubt consider the other recommendations and whether and how they are implemented when considering future reform.
The Report is accessible at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipreview.htm