Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the European Commission raised the stakes in the Tories’ Rochester & Strood by-election battle with UKIP by asking for an extra £1.7bn of funding from the UK.
The Government has announced that it will continue to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) for a further two years. £3 million has been committed which will secure the Unit’s future to 2017. Addressing the Anti-Counterfeiting Group’s Conference in London, IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “We’ve seen significant success in PIPCU’s first year of operation. This extra support will help the unit to build on this impressive record in the fight against intellectual property crime, which costs the UK at least £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes. With more money now being invested in ideas than factories or machinery in the UK, it is vital that we protect creators and consumers and the UK’s economic growth.” Read here full speech here. The PA’s support for this was reported on the BBC and in The Bookseller. It’s good to see our manifesto recommendations being implemented already!
After having spent years insisting that such a move was not possible, Google has announced changes to its search function which assist the battle against piracy. The new measures will see legal services promoted higher up search results, with such services listed in a box at the top as well as in a box on the right hand side of the page. However, these will still be categorised as adverts meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google (!).
Latest figures from the International Publishers Association show that the UK is leading the world in the publication of new titles. In measuring the number of titles published per million inhabitants, UK publishers lead the world with 2875 new titles, over 1000 titles more per million people than the next highest producer, Taiwan. In absolute terms, with regards to the publishing of new titles and re-editions, the UK is the third leading publisher in the world and the highest in Europe with 184,000 titles in 2013 - only with only China (444,000) and the US (304,912) publishing more. The UK also enjoys the world’s best global export performance with export revenues in 2013 exceeding €1.5 million (43% of overall revenue), compared with €1billion for the US and €331million for Spain. Read The PA’s comment here, and The Guardian’s report here.
Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabledhas got a step closer with the European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, proposing its ratification. The Treaty will ensure that books in formats such as Braille, large print, e-books and audio books with special navigation tools, produced under copyright exceptions, can be exchanged across borders, not only within the EU but also between the EU and third countries.
The PA met with Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt MP where clarity was sought, and received, on Labour’s plans for A-levels. Should Labour win the next election they will immediately stop the planned changes to the A-level syllabus and reintroduce AS-levels counting towards final A-level grades. Educational resources and how the UK matches up against countries such as Singapore in the production of these was also discussed. It was explained that Singapore learns just as much from us as we might learn from them and that UK educational publishers are producing highly innovative materials which not only provide access to quality content for use in the classroom but crucially allow teachers to create personalised teaching programmes, as well as track progress and provide assessment feedback. We also highlighted relevant recommendations in Publishing for Britain which was well-received.
The Liberal Democrats inadvertently released their funding plans for their 2015 manifesto pledges. Photographers snapped papers carried by the party's strategy chief Ryan Coetzee as he left a meeting in Westminster which revealed plans to ringfence budgets for nurseries, schools and colleges and 20 hours free childcare a week for pre-school children by 2020.
LITERACY / READING FOR PLEASURE
The Yorkshire Post reported on latest figures from the DfE which show an alarming number of children in Yorkshire falling being the rest of the UK at reading and writing by the age of seven. The figures show the region having the highest level of pupils not pupils not reaching the standard expected of the age group in the country. Nationally, 10% of children do not reach the expected level in reading but in Yorkshire this figure is 12%.
The PA was represented at a meeting organised by FEP, IFRRO and STM with the Commission’s Copyright unit, currently still under DG MARKT as it awaits its move to the new DG Digital Economy and Society. The purpose of the meeting was to help them understand better the educational publishers market and complementary licensing systems offered by RROs. Publishers and RROs from Germany, France, Belgium and Norway were also represented.
Jean-Claude Juncker’s new Commission team has been backed by the European Parliament. Following the hearings, which saw Juncker having to reshuffle some appointments after objections, MEPs voted by a large majority (423 against 209 with 67 abstentions) to support the new Commissioners. Nine Conservative MEPs abstained while the UKIP bloc, unsurprisingly, voted no saying it was undemocratic.
Outgoing Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, has delivered her swan song speech. In it, she worries that Europe is being split in two, with a Digital and an Analogue Europe, and will therefore will be unable to take advantage of digital success stories. She wants to see a Europe that has “a little less confrontation and a little more action”.
This week we: met with Tristram Hunt MP and Iain Wright MP and the Intellectual Property Office. We also met with Kirsten Grant from World Book Day to discuss opportunities for messages around copyright to be included in WBD materials.
Next week we will be: meeting with Business Secretary Vince Cable MP, meeting (with the Alliance for IP) Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Government Policy, and John Whittingdale MP to discuss plans for the Conservative manifesto, and meeting with Laura Trott, Education Adviser to the PM. We will be attending a training session at YouTube, the launch of UK-Mexico Year of Culture 2015, the launch of the National Literacy Trust’s Vision for Literacy, and a meeting of the British Copyright Council.