British Library Worries That Copyright May Be Hindering Research
from the as-well-it-should dept
Michael Geist points us to the news that The British Library has apparently come out with a new report entitled Driving UK Research -- Is copyright a help or a hindrance? The paper brings together 13 different researchers to all share their opinions, and the general consensus appears to be that copyright today is a serious problem in need of reform (and, no, the "Digital Economy Act" in the UK didn't help at all). Basically, the key points are that copyright shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of research activities. As the overall report summarizes, four key suggestions for copyright reform come out:
calls for an extension to fair dealing provisions under UK copyright
law to bring them into line with fair use doctrine in the US. One author
addresses the difficulties of applying fair dealing provisions in the study
of music and sound recordings.
allowing the use of 'orphan works'. One submission advocates that
'orphan works' be placed in the public domain.
enforcing creators' moral rights in order to preserve future creativity,
and the need for exceptions to copyright law not being overridden
by contract or by technical protection measures.
addressing the issue of text mining and data indexing in the context
of the barriers posed by the existing copyright regime.
Funny, of course, that the Digital Economy Act, which was supposed to modernize UK copyright law didn't appear to address any of these points. Well, no, actually. Not funny. Depressing. But the concern here is both very real and very serious. As Dame Lynne Brindley, the CEO of The British Library notes:
There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access
to books and other creative works than ever before for education and
research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way
we would never countenance for printed material.
Let's not wake up in five years' time and realise we have unwittingly
lost a fundamental building block for innovation, education and research
in the UK. Who is protecting the public interest in the digital world?
We need to redefine copyright in the digital age and find a balance
to benefit creators, educators, researchers, the creative industries --
and the knowledge economy.