[A2k] BBC: UK copyright laws to be reviewed, announces Cameron
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.
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
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.
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org
Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997
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