UK Publishers: Fair Use Would Put A 'Chokehold On Innovation'

from the say-what-now? dept

We've mentioned a few times that the UK is running a big review of copyright laws in the country, with a focus on questions having to do with fair use and other exceptions to copyright law, and how they impact innovation. While we're still a bit skeptical -- in part because the last such review (the infamous Gowers Report) was almost entirely ignored when it argued against extending copyright law (and even hinted that reducing it would be better) -- we were encouraged to find out that some of the most knowledgeable people around on copyright law were included on the team. James Boyle, in particular, has been quite vocal about the need for actual empirical evidence, rather than just buying the claims of "harm" from industry types.

The review panel recently closed their request for comments, and some folks are publishing their own comments. A really fantastic one is from Glyn Moody, who highlighted actual data and research, and pointed out where the industry's claims were flawed. It's a very powerful analysis, and I hope that the people on the review committee will take it seriously.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, is a trade group representing publishers in the UK, The Publishers Association Limited. While (as of this writing) I cannot find anything on the organization's own website concerning their filing, they did send out an email to various folks, and Shane Richmond kindly forwarded it on to me. It's stunning in its backwards thinking -- and for its complete lack of factual evidence to back up its claims. The Publisher's Association merely listed out a bunch of bullet points, and we'll take a look at a few:
radical changes to IP laws would fly in the face of expert opinion -- senior executives across the whole sector emphasise the importance of the current IP framework in driving innovation and delivering growth.
Except almost none of that is accurate. Tons of experts have gone into great detail on the problems of copyright law today. But, of course, the Publishers ignore all of this. They only asked senior execs who receive the bounty of having a strong government monopoly if that monopoly was important. It's like asking a kid if candy is good for them, and then using that answer as the evidence that candy is good for children.
introducing elements of an American style fair use exception would create legal ambiguity and put a chokehold on innovation. There is no evidence that it would have a positive effect on overall levels of innovation and growth.
And this is the guffaw-inducing claim. The US has a long history of case law around fair use, and while there are ambiguities, the idea that it would put a chokehold on innovation to allow people to do more with copyrighted works is simply laughable. The Publishers support this with absolutely no evidence. And, of course, the biggest evidence comes from us right here in the US, where we did implement just such a fair use regime, and it did not lead to any chokehold on innovation.
in ten years of surveying British companies on barriers to innovation, the UK Government has not found evidence that companies believe the IP regime to be a barrier to their growth.
I don't quite know the details of this particular study, but the issue that David Cameron raised when he initiated this review of copyright law remain pretty key: all of the big US tech and media companies rely heavily on fair use. If UK companies don't think they need fair use, they may not realize just what they're missing.
barriers to growth and innovation are not the fault of copyright law, but are caused by copyright infringement, the wider business environment and inefficiencies in the licensing system.
[citation needed] All of the (non-industry) evidence suggests otherwise. That's what Glynn's submission highlighted in many points. So why would the Publishers make a claim that is so easily refuted by the evidence?
proposals to tackle these problems are in train and Government has a critical role to play in speeding up implementation of the Digital Economy Act and in supporting industry efforts to reduce the incidence of copyright infringing weblinks being prominently displayed in search engine results.
Yes, this is the Publishers' big solution for innovation: making linking illegal and kicking people off the internet. So very forward thinking of them. Of course, it's no surprise that a big trade group representing a bunch of legacy players who hate change would argue against change based on nothing more than fear and an unwillingness to adapt. However, one hopes that the review committee will put such comments into their proper context.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    Already sent my ideas for the Consultation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re:

    And it's already been returned.

    "Thank you for your input. However, if we were interested in your opinion, we would have asked for it, ignored it and passed legislation against it. The public has no business expressing an interest in the laws that may affect them."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re:

    Haven't even got THAT. Chalk one up for ignorant little scrotes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Heh

    It's like asking a kid if candy is good for them, and then using that answer as the evidence that candy is good for children.

    I'm totally going to pirate that line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    OldGreyTroll (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    You're not talking the same language!

    These folks are using a different definition for the words "innovation and growth" than you are.

    You: innovation = creating new things
    Them: innovation = getting money from newly created things

    You: growth = more new things
    Them: growth = more money from new things

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Heh

    Agreed. I had considered re-posting it as a comment just by itself, so Mike could win his own Funniest/Most Insightful contest :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Brian Schroth (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Guys named Bob across the whole sector emphasize the importance of taxing everyone not named Bob and giving the proceeds to guys named Bob in driving innovation and delivering growth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Scote, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Status Quo != Innovation

    Innovation. The industry keeps using that word. I do not think it means what they think it does.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Re: Status Quo != Innovation

    Linnogation: The Corporate art of finding new and innovative ways to pursue litigation against consumers, with the intent of enriching lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    2nd reading...

    radical changes to IP laws would fly in the face of expert opinion -- senior executives across the whole sector emphasis the importance of the current IP framework in driving innovation and delivering growth.


    Appeal to authority.

    introducing elements of an American style fair use exception would create legal ambiguity and put a chokehold on innovation. There is no evidence that it would have a positive effect on overall levels of innovation and growth.


    We don't know what will happen to us.

    in ten years of surveying British companies on barriers to innovation, the UK Government has not found evidence that companies believe the IP regime to be a barrier to their growth.


    Because we don't know what it might do to us, it must not be good for us.

    barriers to growth and innovation are not the fault of copyright law, but are caused by copyright infringement, the wider business environment and inefficiencies in the licensing system.


    Monopolies, however temporary (99+ is no more than a coon's age :), don't decrease competition. Just don't look up the definition of temporary.

    proposals to tackle these problems are in train and Government has a critical role to play in speeding up implementation of the Digital Economy Act and in supporting industry efforts to reduce the incidence of copyright infringing weblinks being prominently displayed in search engine results.


    Licensing issues are inefficient not our 40 yr old business model predicated on print and broadcast :)

    Furthermore, the [tax-paying, filesharing, freetard-funded] governments of the world must act as our personal army in order to make these people pay us. We make the woorld spin and the sun revolve around us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    There is no evidence that it would have a positive effect on overall levels of innovation and growth.

    Just off the top of my head, DVRs, VHS decks, MP3 players, radio, copy machines... I'm sure others will add more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: You're not talking the same language!

    FTFY

    You: innovation = creating new things
    Them: innovation = new ways to pay for the old things

    You: growth = more new things
    Them: growth = adding more lawyers to protect the new way others will pay for new and old things

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Heh

    Good line. I'd argue its more like asking a kid whether they like candy, and then using the answer as evidence that candy is good for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    The. Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Status Quo != Innovation

    No doubt. They use "growth" and "innovation" over and over. There is such a parallel between big media and VCs. VCs have more intelligent partners, however. Who would you rather negotiate with, artists or engineers (I realize that's not black and white, but...)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Jack Shappa, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Heh

    lol cute considering the article. Although that wouldn't really be piracy considering that line has been used in one form or another about a billion times before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Joe, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    lol

    It's like the church trying to oppress the printing press all over again!!

    Also, do $enior Exec$ use a different dictionary to the rest of us? I'd really like to know what their definition of 'Innovation' is...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    DH's Love Child (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Status Quo != Innovation

    Oh that's priceless!! I'm gonna steal that word sometime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    the idiots have already won

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

    Meanwhile the U.S. just modified (a little) copyright laws.

    S.3689 -- Copyright Cleanup, Clarification, and Corrections Act of 2010 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] - ENR)
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c111:5:./temp/~c11182vJA3::

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    So why would the Publishers make a claim that is so easily refuted by the evidence?

    Nobody needs to believe the claim. It just needs to be made. The politicians in question are already bought and paid for; they just need something to quote as the reason behind their actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Quoting....
    "These folks are using a different definition for the words "innovation and growth" than you are.

    You: innovation = creating new things
    Them: innovation = getting money from newly created things

    You: growth = more new things
    Them: growth = more money from new things"
    ---------------------------------------------

    No. "Them" wants to get more money from "old things" by killing innovation and dissemination of information. They would copyright the times-tables if they could.
    That's the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    So why would the Publishers make a claim that is so easily refuted by the evidence?

    Because, later on, it itself can be used as evidence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re: 2nd reading...

    I spent time thinking about this. You people owe me money for my time!!! How dare you....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    OK that does it...

    .... if they actually get their way based on that load of b*llocks I'm changing my name to "Wonko the Sane"... that's way worse than the toothpicks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Tfp, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:07am

    T'internet

    The Internet is like pandora's box to the governments of the world (all of them), they're desperately trying to close it down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:17am

    Re: OK that does it...

    And I'll change mine to Anonymous Troll, IRL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Duke (profile), Mar 6th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Interestingly, no one had heard of the Publishing Association until about 9 months ago when the BPI's top lobbyists moved over to them (I guess due to musicians gradually realising that paying someone to lobby against their own interests was a bad idea).

    Having said that, I'm against fair use (and argued so in my response to the review, on behalf of PPUk). It *is* uncertain (particularly with an absence of domestic case law) and it seems that every other week there tends to be a story here about some company suing for copyright infringement despite it being an obvious case for fair use.

    Fair use is a kind of equitable defence; as such it works great when you have equal parties, but is almost worthless when dealing with a stronger or weaker party. A much more sensible approach would be (in my opinion) to set very clear and limiting rules on when copyright applies, rather than saying it always exists unless one of a set of fairly vague defences applies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    isaac the k, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    Mike... you really need to get with the program...

    You and all the other "factanistas" here on TD!
    Really!
    We can't allow your supposed "evidence," "studies," and "reasearch" get in the way of the TRUTH!

    We don't need to prove our points, because we know they are true. We feel it in out gut! And no amount of technical "factual" mumbo-jumbo can ever change our hearts.

    Sure, you might change out minds, but since we listen to our GUTS, the "logical" protestations going on in our heads don't really matter.

    When will you accept that? So we can go back to selling you multiple copies of the White album in piece?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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