Friday, 20 May 2011

Hargreaves Report Aims to Overhaul UK Copyright Laws

On the 18th May the Hargreaves review was finally published, taking a look at the British law systems current stance towards copyrighted material, patents and the transfer of music files.

Professor Ian Hargreaves proposed a digital marketplace to be implemented by the end of 2012, from which copyright content can be purchased and sold. Hargreaves' system has been described as a 'content exchange'.

2 years have passed since the report, entitled 'Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth', was requested by David Cameron. 

 The report encourages an overhaul of current UK copyright rules and regulations [Image: ComputerActive]

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has told the media he is fully behind the ideas put forward in the Hargreaves report, stating: “In recent years, the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet.” He went on to add that he 'supported' plans to make alterations to the copyright system.

The professor shared his idea of an improved system for dealing with content where the rights owner isn't known, also addressing what should and shouldn't be considered 'unlawful' when it comes to copying music to and from devices. At present, current laws 'obstruct innovation and economic growth in the UK', the report states.

Hargreaves argues that copying music from CD's to portable media players should not be considered 'unlawful', which it is as things stand. This digital transfer process is used on a regular basis by MP3 owners, yet is still technically illegal.

When asked about his opinions towards Britain current copyright system, Hargreaves said: “In recent years, the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet.”

The Hargreaves report may prove to be the answer to adapting and improving an admittedly old-fashioned system.

1 comments:

Some of Hargeave's proposals are little more than the product of corporate lobbying to legitimise the theft of copyrighted material from creators, and if enacted could result in a "creative famine".

With reference to his proposals on Extended collective licencing and orphan works, there is now a real danger that he will blow the bottom out of the copyright market by licencing orphan and none opted out works for nominal fees. A detailed explanation (not by me) can be found here:

http://blog.authorsrights.org.uk/2011/06/08/hargreaves-review-extended-collective-licensing-and-orphan-works/#comment-139

The resulting dis incentivisation and removal of income from creators could be so sever that within a short period of time it could become virtually impossible for such people to make a living. In turn this would lead to a catastrophic drop in productivity, to such an extent that the next generation may view the coming years as devoid of real creative content.

Hargreave's may have tinkered at the edges with copying music from a laptop to an ipod, but no one was really bothered about that anyway. His other provisions are however clearly designed to take income away from creators, a group who he has not attempted to define the economic impact of this on in his report. One rather wonders why?

This report in certain respects is unethical and would appear to be negligently compiled.

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