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Hargreaves proposals for IP reform endorsed by UK government

06/09/2011

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United Kingdom

The government has published its response to recommendations made by Professor Hargreaves in his report published in May this year.

This alert was featured in Tech Bytes, our technology law newsletter.

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The government has published its response to recommendations made by Professor Hargreaves in his report published in May this year - "Digital Opportunity: A review of intellectual property and growth".  All of the recommendations made in the report have been accepted and the government has issued an action plan and timetable of next steps.

  • Digital Copyright Exchange:  The government is currently considering the practicalities of creating a Digital Copyright Exchange. A progress report will be published at the end of 2011.
  • Copyright exceptions:  The government intends to consult in autumn 2011 on proposals to widen the copyright exceptions under UK law. A new private copying or “format shifting” exception will be introduced, allowing users to copy content for use in different formats - such as copying music from a CD to play on an MP3 player - as long as the use is private and non-commercial.  The European Copyright Directive already gives Member States the option to introduce a private copying exception, provided the rights-holder receives “fair compensation".  In most other EU Member States where there is a private copying exception, rights-holders are compensated through a levy on the sale of certain copying devices, such as USB sticks, blank CDs and MP3 players.  However, the UK government’s view is that a private copyright exception will result in minimal harm to rights-holders and that therefore a levy scheme is unnecessary.  Other new copyright exceptions to be adopted in the light of the Hargreaves Report are a parody exception, and an exception for text and data mining for search purposes.
  • Orphan works: The government will press ahead with proposals for a licensing scheme for orphan works and to extend collective licensing schemes.
  • Patent backlogs and thickets:  Patent backlogs will be addressed through work-sharing between the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and other patent offices. The government has also asked the IPO to investigate and report by November 2011 on the scale and prevalence of “patent thickets” (concentrations of patents in particular technologies).
  • Evidence-based policy:  The government wants to improve the quality of available data to drive IP policy.  It is therefore inviting organisations to work with the IPO to improve standards of openness and transparency around evidence. The government also plans to ask Ofcom to establish benchmarks and data on trends in online copyright infringement.

The full government response and action plan can be accessed here.

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