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PA's PA 27th June

PA's PA 27th June

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA

A difficult week for the Prime Minister as his former press adviser, Andy Coulson, was found guilty of phone hacking.  While former News International Chief Executive, and close friend of Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, was cleared of the charges against her, the PM had to make a public apology for his error in judgment in hiring Coulson.  The Opposition were quick to make capital of this, with Ed Miliband accusing Cameron of bringing a ‘criminal into Downing Street’ (not sure where this statement leaves that central tenet of UK law that you are innocent until proven guilty…).  The PM’s week is only set to get worse, however, with key allies in his campaign to block the appointment of Juncker as President of the Commission switching sides.  According to the BBC both the Netherlands and Sweden now say they will support Juncker. 

Lib Dem Creative Industries Roundtable

The PA participated in a roundtable organised by the Liberal Democrats creative industries team for them to hear directly from IP industries and businesses what they need from a future Liberal Democrat government.  Lib Dem attendees included: Business Secretary Vince Cable MP, Lord Clement-Jones, Creative Industries Spokespeople John Leech MP and Baroness Bonham Carter, and Special Advisers Emily Walch and Matt Sanders. The discussion focused on two areas: Access to Finance – what are the distinct needs of creative businesses and how can we make sure investors recognise them; and Intellectual Property – what more can we do to protect the output of creative industries, while allowing room for new models to develop.  The attendees represented a broad range of industries from publishing, music and video games to design, advertising and radio along with the, ever present, Google!  All agreed that access to finance remained a problem and that a lack of understanding of the creative industries amongst those holding the purse strings was a contributing factor.  The creation of an IP Box (similar to the Patent Box) was recommended, an idea which Vince committed to pursuing along with the creation of a statutory duty for the IPO to support copyright.  On IP, well-versed points were made regarding the role of intermediaries in protecting content online and the need not only for stability in the IP legal framework but also clarity (with the text and data mining exception used as an example where we now have the former but not the latter). 

By coincidence, later in the day saw the Alliance for IP brief the Liberal Democrats on the Alliance’s Manifesto for IP.  Special Advisers to the Secretary of State and the Deputy Prime Minister were extremely keen to hear more about proposals to boost investment in IP business and on tackling online copyright infringement.  The PA’s manifesto proposals, which will be following shortly, will meet an audience welcoming of policy ideas.

Copyright exceptions

The saga that is the implementation of the copyright exceptions rumbles on.  The remaining two Statutory Instruments (private copying and parody and quotation) returned this week to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instrument (JCSI) for further scrutiny and have now been reported on.  This means they can proceed to debate.  However, on the private copying SI, the JCSI has taken the step of deeming that it should be brought to the special attention of the House.  It is quite rare for the Committee to do that, especially on an affirmative instrument. These will be debated in the Lords next Thursday – the date for the Commons debate is still to be confirmed. 

IP Enforcement: Follow the Money

Following his report last month into search engines, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Intellectual Property, Mike Weatherley MP, has published a report into tackling advertising revenue from IP-infringing websites.  According to Mike, “It is paramount that we curb advertising revenue that is going to pirates who are, in turn, seriously damaging our creative industries.”

Recommendations from the Report include:

·         *PIPCU to have further resources and for its role to be expanded – although he recommends that industry should be responsible for funding from 2015

·         For PIPCU and IPO to consider what additional legislation may be necessary to require action by advertisers and payment providers

·         That the advertising industry should support PIPCU and Operation Creative, and implement industry initiatives to tackle IP infringement online

*Police IP Crime Unit

Teaching and Education

According to The Sunday Times (£), Labour is considering proposals to send children to school from the age of two.  Explaining the reasoning behind this, Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said it was because basic skills such as counting and holding pen were easier to grasp at school rather than at home or with an under-qualified child minder.  He also committed Labour to funding a Royal College of Teaching which would monitor teaching standards and remove membership from underperformers. 

Ahead of the publication next month of the annual CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 201, the CBI has warned that the UK’s education system is failing to produce enough people with foreign-language skills to meet business needs and pointed to research which showed that one in five schools in England had a persistently law take-up of languages.  This was rebutted by Education Minister, Liz Truss, who used the letters page of the Guardian to highlight the series of reforms the Government has undertaken that have led to a languages revival in primary and secondary schools and pointed to the fact that from September children will be required to learn a language from the age of seven. 

Truss also continues to bang the drum for text books.  Writing in the Daily Telegraph she argues that teachers in English schools spend too much of their time preparing new lessons, worksheets and other materials and not enough on the basic task of teaching children from standard texts. The failure to use "strong core material" such as standard texts is hampering children's ability to master basic lessons and skills.

Bernice McCabe, head of North London Collegiate School, warned attendees at thePrince’s Teaching Institute Summer School at Cambridge Universitythat teachers who focus on making lessons accessible and relevant risk producing pupils who cannot think for themselves.   Teachers should not be content to satisfy the minimum standards and or be constrained by exam specifications but should instead be "prepared to use challenging materials to stimulate the interest of their pupils", she said. 

The Royal Society has called on the Government to create a new baccalaureate-style framework that place emphasis on vocational and academic learning across a broad range of subjects to 18.  Its report, Vision for Science and Mathematics Education, sets out a roadmap for radically transforming our education systems, with a particular focus on mathematics and science, over the next 20 years. 

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

With WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights meeting next week, The PA met with the Intellectual Property Office to discuss issues and concerns regarding the proposal being circulated for WIPO to embark on a Treaty for Libraries and Archives.   The IPO assured us that the UK’s position remains firmly that the case for such a Treaty has not been made, that no robust evidence has been presented, that there is already scope in national laws to address the issues being raised by the library community and that there is ample scope within WIPO to facilitate discussions on information sharing and best practice.  The PA is in close contact with our colleagues in the International Publishers Association to ensure that this remains the case.   

And finally….The UK is a pretty ‘good’ place

A survey out this week shows the UK to be in the top seven contributors to the world: and it’s largely because of our publishers!  Available atGoodCountry.org the report by Simon Anholt measures countries by their contribution across a range of economic and social metrics before setting a final score of how “Good” they are. So how “Good” are we? Well, despite being rather let down by our rating on International Peace and Security (which even at 94th is better rated than troublemakers such as the Netherlands or Sweden) the UK emerges in good form, with the UK making key contributions to the world in terms of  Culture, World Order and stability, and Health and Wellbeing. The UK, however receives its top marks for Science and Technology, coming in at No.1 in the World based on overwhelmingly high scores on Journal Exports, International Publications and Nobel Prizes.  Read our blog post here

Where we’ve been and where we’re going

This week we have attended a Lib Dem creative industries roundtable, participated in an Alliance for IP Lib Dem briefing and met with the Intellectual Property Office.  Next week we are attending the launch of Stationers Hall’s European Digital Media Landscape to 2020 and the Innovation Excellence Awards, the launch of CREATE UK – the Creative Industries Council’s strategy growth,  as well as meeting with the Business Secretary’s Special Adviser and Lord Clement-Jones to discuss future policy initiatives.