COMMONS

Committee publishes report on the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property

27 June 2012

The Business Innovation and Skills Committee publishes a report - "The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property: where next?" - as part of its inquiry into the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. 

Commenting on the publication of the report, the Chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Adrian Bailey MP, said:

"Professor Hargreaves was right that IP policy needs to be more rigorously supported by solid econometrics. This should be a primary consideration, albeit not the only consideration, when policy is being developed in this area. 

Work undertaken during the past year, and ongoing, is helping to address some of the inevitable evidential gaps in Professor Hargreaves’ broad analysis of the subject.
 
Given the potential for legal reform to boost growth, the Government should set out a clear timetable for implementation once the evidence for change has been assessed.
 
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill provides scope for some changes to copyright law through secondary legislation. The Committee will carefully monitor the debate on these proposals in the light of our report conclusions. 
 
Other areas, notably those of orphan works and extended collected licensing, will rightly be covered in primary legislation. These are controversial topics and will benefit from full debate."

Some of the report’s conclusions include (Quotes from Adrian Bailey, the Chair of the Committee):
 
1. On copyright exceptions
 
The Committee believes further work remains to be done in analysing whether the economic benefits of a parody exception would be as extensive as claimed. However, other grounds may yet support a change to the law.

"This is an important area, because it is one where extending what is legally permissible would probably help improve public respect for copyright law."

 
2. On content mining:
 
The Committee agrees that the ability to read published scientific data automatically is useful and needs to be opened up. The Committee recommends a further look at cooperative licensing models before any wholesale exception is implemented.

"By adopting a licensing approach, the Government has the chance to address technical feasibility and security issues while supporting the successful UK publishing sector."

3. On the Digital Copyright Exchange
 
The Committee encourages the Government to push forward with this idea provided the system is kept simple and there is a proper cost/benefit analysis.

"The Digital Copyright Exchange has great potential to rationalise the current confusing process of rights access. However, there is some risk of over-complication and consequent cost."

4. On the Government’s approach to negotiations on the Unified Patents Court:
 
The Committee is concerned about the Government’s approach on this. A unified patent and litigation system could bring many benefits, particularly if the central court were situated in London, but the current proposals have not been welcomed by practitioners or industry.

"The current proposed framework risks increasing costs and exposure for UK business and a clear vision of how to minimise those risks is lacking. Given the status of negotiations, this situation needs addressing urgently."

Image: iStockphoto 

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