17 May 2011

Copyright Review - Hargreaves (May 2011)

The Hargreaves review is due to be made public tomorrow following a comprehensive review into intellectual property. Whether the review aims to clarify the current copyright laws to be more in tune with current needs, is as yet unknown. It would seem unlikely that the 'Google Review' will take place, not only because of the implications it may have for the impartiality of the review following David Camerons remarks but mainly because of the 'groans and sighs' from publishers and content providers (note - not the actual authors per se!).

While certain organisations have already been made privy to the information contained within the review, its contents will be available for public consumption tomorrow. Privileged bodies afforded early readings were not OFCOM, ISP's, the police nor Trading Standards I hasten to add, but major record labels.

Whether the review will have any impact other than opposition to the subsequent recommendations leaves an air of trepidation amongst the interested stakeholders but not earth moving for the UK's overall copyright regime. The main changes proposed are thought to be the introduction of central digital clearing houses (similar to the way in which PRS operates), a new private copying exception (for personal use, such as copying a CD onto an MP3 player) and the 'Google review' would appear to be shelved.

If the review does indeed include more relaxed fair use provisions, by way of implementing the private copying exception then the privileged bodies may not be so agreeable with the proposition that the review is the deciding factor on the 'copyright war' (expressed by the BBC new report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13422652 "Who has won the copyright wars?").

Without wanting to analyse too deeply before reading the actual recommendations, theorising about whether the copyright protection afforded to owners should be enhanced or decreased or whether the enforcement of licensing rights should be the main target is all just that... theory.

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