Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth

Digital Opportunity, a review of Britain’s intellectual property law by Professor Ian Hargreaves, is published this month. The report concludes that the UK’s copyright laws are outdated and makes recommendations for a “clear change in in the strategic direction of IP [intellectual property] policy direction designed to ensure that the UK has an IP framework best suited to supporting innovation and promoting economic growth in the digital age. This change is modest in ambition and wholly achievable.”

Here is an extract from the executive summary [with some of my comments]:

The Review’s specific recommendations would support growth of the UK’s increasingly intangibles intensive economy. This requires:
• an efficient digital copyright licensing system, where nothing is unusable because the rights owner cannot be found [no more orphan works – hurrah!];
• an approach to exceptions in copyright which encourages successful new digital technology businesses both within and beyond the creative industries;
• a patent system capable of preventing heavy demand for patents causing serious barriers to market entry in critical technologies;
• reliable and affordable advice for smaller companies, to enable them to thrive in the IP intensive parts of the UK economy;
• refreshed institutional governance of the UK’s IP system which enables it to adapt organically to change in technology and markets.
If the Review’s recommendations are acted upon, the result will be stronger rates of innovation and increased economic growth. An economic impact assessment conducted by the Review team, and of course subject to the high degree of uncertainty inherent in such projections, estimates that this would add between 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent to annual GDP growth. The path laid down in this review would also, over time, mean that IP law, including copyright law, would become clearer and be observed by most people without controversy [the Report notes that millions of citizens are in daily breach of copyright for format-shifting e.g. ripping a CD onto a computer; and the resulting confusion about what is allowed and what is not risks that the law falls into disrepute].

I am delighted that the report advises that “copying should be lawful where it is for private purposes, or does not damage the underlying aims of copyright”.  I fully agree that these changes will “help to make copyright law better understood and more acceptable to the public”.
I really hope that the government will accept this report and implement its recommendations.

Do you remember this?

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/csodaszar/283568892

If not, follow the image’s link to the Wikipedia article.

I love the “Home Sewing is Killing Fashion” parody 🙂

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