[A2k] BBC: UK copyright laws to be reviewed, announces Cameron

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Nov 4 09:44:43 PDT 2010


4 November 2010 Last updated at 15:57 GMT

Britain's intellectual property laws are to be reviewed to "make them  
fit for the internet age," prime minister David Cameron has announced.
He said the law could be relaxed to allow greater use of copyright  
material without the owner's permission.

The announcement was welcomed by internet campaigners who say it will  
boost small business.

But any changes could be resisted by the music and film industries who  
have campaigned against copyright reform.

Speaking at an event in the East End of London, at which he announced  
a series of investments by IT giants including Facebook and Google, Mr  
Cameron said the founders of Google had told the government they could  
not have started their company in Britain.

'Fair use'
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.

"So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if  
we can make them fit for the internet age. I want to encourage the  
sort of creative innovation that exists in America."

The six month review will look at what the UK can learn from US rules  
on the use of copyright material without the rights holder's permission.

It will also look at removing some of the potential barriers that  
stand in the way of new internet-based business models, such as the  
cost of obtaining permission from rights holders and the cost and  
complexity of enforcing intellectual property rights in the UK and  

It will also look at the interaction between intellectual property and  
competition law - and how to make it easier for small businesses to  
protect and exploit their intellectual property.

The review, which will report next April, will recommend changes to UK  
law, as well as long-term goals to be pursued by the British  
government on the international stage

In a separate development, the Intellectual Property Office will trial  
a "peer to patent" project, which will allow people to comment on  
patent applications and rate contributions to help improve the quality  
of granted patents.

'Basic user rights'
The announcement was welcomed by internet freedom campaigners, who  
said the government had to redress the balance after the controversial  
Digital Economy Bill, which gives copyright holders the power to block  
access to websites hosting illegal content.

"It is long overdue. Some of our copyright laws are frankly  
preposterous," Jim Killock, of the Open Rights Group, told BBC News.

"The Digital Economy Act left a massive hole of missing user rights  
like personal copying and parody.

"It's great to have the opportunity to make the case for modern  
copyright that works for citizens and artists rather than yesterday's  
global publishing monopolies."

The Digital Economy Bill was rushed into law in the dying days of the  
Labour government but has yet to be enacted.

Mr Killock said he hoped the government would introduce "basic user  
rights" so that people could make personal copies of music and videos,  
or transfer them from one format to another, without fear of  

He also called on ministers to relax the laws on parody - citing the  
case of a recent You Tube clip parodying rapper Jay-Z's Empire State  
of Mind.

Newport State Of Mind has been taken down by YouTube due to a  
copyright claim by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

Mr Killock said relaxing copyright laws would also give companies more  
freedom to innovate.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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