UK Publishers Pretend To Embrace Copyright Reform… In Order To Kill Copyright Reform
from the nice-try dept
One of the bolder ideas in the UK’s Hargreaves report was the suggestion that a Digital Copyright Exchange should be set up. The idea here is to promote innovative uses of digital content by making it much easier to acquire the necessary licenses from rightsholders.
So it’s interesting to see the UK Publishers Association (PA) backing the idea:
The Publishers Association (PA) has today called for the development of a new online platform that would act as a “one stop shop” for the exchange of information about how to license copyright works online. Such a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) would counteract the need for dangerous changes to copyright law proposed by government in a parallel consultation, the PA argues.
However, as this indicates, the PA’s support for the DCE is actually an attempt to get all the other suggestions in the Hargreaves report thrown out:
In supporting the development of the DCE, The PA urges government to suspend progress of the parallel Copyright Consultation launched by the Intellectual Property Office late last year, which recommends drastically weakening copyright. The PA maintains that many of the consultation’s proposals would remove or undermine the ability of rightsholders to develop licensing business models, and go against the grain of the market-based voluntary arrangements proposed in the DCE.
This is, of course, nonsense: there’s no suggestion of weakening copyright, just trying to update it for the digital age — and only in very minor ways. Proposals include things like permitting format shifting and also freeing up orphan works — hardly radical.
Moreover, it turns out that the PA is only supporting the DCE if it’s watered-down to the point of uselessness :
The PA makes the case for a DCE as a fully voluntary, interoperable platform, for use by businesses and the public, which could allow rights to be licensed more efficiently and openly. Its submission makes clear that the DCE would not be a place to set prices or terms, but rather to put potential users in touch with the rightsholders in a work, in all forms of content.
In other words, the PA wants the DCE to be a totally toothless system that would not solve the problems faced by innovative startups seeking to explore new uses of digital copyright material, but would allow publishers to simply carry on as before.