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.