UK Plans To Review Copyright Laws (Yet Again), With Eye Towards Fair Use

from the well,-it's-something dept

A few years back, the UK government commissioned a thorough review of copyright law, from top to bottom, resulting in the famed Gowers Report at the end of 2006. As I noted at the time, Gowers appeared to try too hard to “balance” everything. However, at the very least, it didn’t just push for stronger protectionism. In fact, it said that extending copyright terms didn’t make any sense at all. Gowers himself later admitted that the actual evidence suggested copyright terms should be shortened, but he left that out of the report, since he knew the industry folks would go nuts.

Of course, even with this comprehensive report, the government basically ignored it, because the lobbyists worked hard to marginalize it.

With that in mind, consider me somewhat skeptical upon finding out that current Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced similar plans for a thorough government review of copyright laws, with an eye towards greater user rights and freedoms. This comes as a surprise, since it’s so rare to see any government these days talk about fixing copyright law in this manner. Also notable is that Cameron’s views on this were apparently influenced by Google’s founders, who pointed out that they would not have been able to start the company in the UK, due to the lack of fair use there. While Cameron’s statement sounds a bit like he’s just heard of fair use for the first time, it’s good that he seems to appreciate it:

He said: “The service they provide depends on taking a snapshot of all the content on the internet at any one time and they feel our copyright system is not as friendly to this sort of innovation as it is in the United States.

“Over there, they have what are called ‘fair-use’ provisions, which some people believe gives companies more breathing space to create new products and services.”

This all sounds good, but let’s see what comes out in practice — especially after the lobbyists get done trashing the concept of fair use as being somehow anti-innovation.

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Comments on “UK Plans To Review Copyright Laws (Yet Again), With Eye Towards Fair Use”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I wouldn’t get over excited about the prospect of the odd sticking plaster or two pasted onto copyright in the UK, it will undoubtedly be “balanced” against increased legal powers against the evil pirates, who are destroying the movie, music and software industries, which the current government much like the last one accept as an article of faith.

Anonymous Coward says:

Their needs to be two (2) copyrights available for each work:
1. Copyright for the original work, issued to the creator of that work. This copyright can never be sold or reassigned to another, except in the Creators will. This copyright is mandatory upon registration and protects the Creator of the work upon it’s creation.
2. Copyright for the commercial interest that licensed the use of the work from number 1. This copyright has legal help laws built into in it to help protect it’s rights for both parties in the future.

Now I am no legal expert but this would protect the author (the government doesn’t) because they never lose their claim on the work. This would protect the commercial licensee as they would have a legally binding contract with the author and the government as to their rights. The only one that would be left out of the loop are the lawyers, gee what a loss. The one copyright system can never work for both parties.

john says:

Re: Re:

“issued to the creator of that work.” Do you mean that it would be compulsory dictate by the state or would the creator have the freedom to decide whether it was the best businesses model for his/hers individual circumstance? For many creatives seeking the max first sale price may be a better strategy.

With respect What you are suggesting seems to be a confusion of moral(non economic) rights “can never be sold” and tax-like dutys “mandatory” , and economic individual rights which can be used/not used( and sold) as the individual sees fit.

Compulsory licensing is not copyright.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Fair Use in the UK

Good article.
I have hopes, though long term.
At one time, buying your way into office was easy – but Meg Whitman tried and failed.
At one time, “All I know is what I read in the newspaper” (Will Rogers) was a truism – but now, most of us are very sceptical of these “masters of spin”.
Maybe some day (pray, everyone!) lobbyists will lose the power they have over politics.

Idobek (profile) says:

UK Government: Our aim for the Olympic site, with better connectivity than anywhere else in the country, is to encourage internet companies to set up offices there in order to create a UK version of Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley (specifically Google): No way dude! Your libel and free speech laws are screwed man! And that Digital Economy Act you voted for last year is designed to destroy the digital economy on behalf on the recording industry. On top of that the EU is determined to undermine any internet company that isn’t based there – even going to the extent of state funded research into an EU alternative the “American” internet. Why would be go any where near London or the UK? Everyone that is currently there is thinking of leaving and coming here?

UK Government: Really, oh, maybe we should look at that.

Carl Barron (user link) says:

Reforms to UK Laws Could Wreck Global Economy

UK Gov interference with a proven system of Copyright Laws which has taken over 300 years to develop and refine could prove catastrophic to the financial sectors or the World. The UK Internet economy alone is worth £100bn, says Google

By implementing New Laws they chance wrecking the most cost effective and valuable communications system ever devised by imposing restrictions even on ‘Free Advertising’ in your own web-sites. See Web sites under threat as Advertising Standards Authority extends remit to cover all online ads >

Had section 17 of the Digital Rights Act been enforced as was proposed by Mandelson, both Copyright and Patents World-wide would have been made Null and Void see details here>

Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk

Antony Watts (profile) says:

It's an EU thing

Mr Cameron is just posturing. The EU is undertaking. pan European look at copyright in every country with a view to harmonise it to further a common market.

So UK has to get its stall out and loaded to have its say in the negotiations.

What is good is that the EU view on copyright, ACTA not withstanding, is more open than most current country laws.

But now is the time to start to have our say in what we would like to see in the common market.

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