It Begins: Content Execs Prepare To Lobby Again

Didn’t we predict that the government’s new intellectual property review would see a replay of all the entrenched dogma that was flung in Digital Britain’s direction?

The UK music industry was on Wednesday due to discuss what view it should submit to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ (BIS) review of “how the intellectual property system can better drive growth and innovation”, commissioned from Professor Ian Hargreaves in November, MusicWeek reports

The call for evidence went out in the last few weeks.

MusicWeek: “Already, some executives have privately revealed misgivings about some of the team members that Hargreaves has assembled around him, including open rights supporter James Boyle. One executive says, ‘The way some of the questions are framed are quite loaded‘.”

It’s easy to see how they might draw that conclusion from the language in the terms of reference. The UK government wants Hargreaves to examine…

  • Barriers to new internet-based business models, including the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders”.
  • “The cost and complexity of enforcing intellectual property rights within the UK and internationally”.
  • “The interaction between IP and Competition frameworks”.
  • “The cost and complexity to SMEs of accessing services to help them protect and exploit their IP”.

The clear goal is some kind of liberalisation in favour of online services, whilst maintaining copyright holders’ rights. We bet the end result may be more a greasing of IP wheels around licensing processes than wholesale rewriting of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act.

We would also expect the likes of the Open Rights Group, which seems to plant itself on the opposite side to entertainment owners, to submit evidence to Hargreaves by his March 1 deadline.

The review is due to be submitted to BIS secretary Vince Cable and chancellor George Osborne by April.

Hargreaves, who is a former Independent, FT and BBC News editor, heads Cardiff University’s journalism school and cracked whip in a recent creative industries review commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government. He advised reform of an underperforming public media investment fund and the addition of new digital board inside the government, which committed to implement his recommendations.