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PA's PA 28th November

PA's PA 28th November

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week where political parties continued to demonstrate their inability to use social media without getting into trouble.  After instances involving paisley pyjamas (Conservatives) and England flag festooned houses (Labour) this week it was the turn of UKIP who quickly found their failure to recognise Westminster Cathedral trending on Twitter.  Other #thingsthatarenotmosques  tweeters helpfully (!) pointed out to UKIP included Kate Moss, mosquitos and The Trafford Centre in Manchester. 

European activity

The PA attended an event organised by the Federation of European Publishers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  Attendees at the dinner,  which included MEPs from across Europe, heard from three sets of authors and publishers about the role the publisher plays in enabling the author to create their work, get paid and successfully reach their audience.  The UK’s Joanna Prior from Penguin Random House and her author Jonathan Coe were one of the author-publisher pairing with Jonathan ably explaining just how important his publisher is to him.  UK MEPs present included Mary Honeyball (Labour), Catherine Beader (the sole surviving Liberal Democrat)and Julie Ward (Labour).  All three were incredibly supportive of publishing and the UK creative industries generally with Mary, in introducing Joanna and Jonathan, making a strong defence of copyright.  The Strasbourg trip also provided an opportunity to catch up with European colleagues and discuss shared policy concerns including European copyright reform, VAT and territoriality. 

Copyright Round Table

As the UK gears up to engage in debate with the European Commission on copyright reform, IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe brought together a group of rightsholders and other stakeholders to discuss what the UK stance should be.  It was clear, the Minister said, that some sort of reform is on the way and it was vital that the UK engage with the Commission on terms that it understands and in a constructive manner (we are all brushing up on our Euro-jargon).  The emphasis in Brussels is on the impact on jobs, SMEs and growth and so arguments for or against reform would have to point in these directions.  All rightsholders agreed that the UK should call for a flexible, licence-based approach to copyright; and that the Commission should be required to provide robust and properly researched evidence in support of any proposed reforms. 

Judicial Review of Private Copying

UK Music, the Musicians Union (MU) and The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) havelaunched a Judicial Review of the Government’s decision to introduce of a private copying exception without providing fair compensation for songwriters, musicians and other rights holders within the creative sector.  The exception came into force on 1st October and unlike exceptions for private copying which exist in other European countries does not include a mechanism to calculate any compensation due to creators for the copying of their work.  Jo Dipple, Chief Executive of UK Music, said:

“Licensing is the business model for the UK music industry’s success in the digital age. However, where the right to licence is removed rights holders should be compensated. Copyright enables people to earn a living out of their creativity and sustains jobs. The Government has made a serious error with regards to private copying. The legislative framework must guarantee musicians and composers are fairly compensated”.  It is fully expected that the UK High Court will almost immediately pass the case onwards and upwards to the Court of Justice for the European Union; in which case we will be waiting around for two years for a judgment.  What is the line about justice delayed…?”

Consultation on copyright in unpublished works

The IPO is consulting  on reducing the duration of copyright in unpublished (“2039”) works in accordance with section 170(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988​.  Before the CDPA 1988, previously unpublished works were given copyright protection for 50 years after publication (without publication the option for copyright protection could be potentially perpetual until publication); the CDPA 1988 introduced a mechanism to streamline the protection of published and unpublished works which will happen after 2039 due to complex transitional provisions. The IPO now wants to change the transitional provisions based on Clause 76 in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Deadline 12th December 2014.

Competition and Markets Authority Annual Plan 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued for consultation its Annual Plan for 2015/16.  This gives partner and interested parties the opportunity to provide views and comments on the organisation’s main objectives and priorities for the year.  (To note, 2015/16 will only be the organisation’s second year as the UK’s competition and consumer authority.)  Of particular interest is the acknowledgement that, in some markets, change may be needed to maximise the potential of competition for the benefit of consumers and the economy, even where there is no breach of competition or consumer protection law. The UK’s markets regime allows them to look at specific markets or practices, and to consider how competition can work better in these markets in the interests of customers (whether consumers or business customers) and anticipates that some of this work will be particularly focused on issues relating to the digital economy. 

Launch of Creative Industries Federation

The Creative Industries Federation was formally launched this week.  The CIF purports to be a new independent voice of the UK's arts, cultural and creative industries, from both the private and public sector.  The keynote speaker was Chancellor George Osborne with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander also giving short statements about their commitment to creative arts.  The arts community was represented by Warner Bros’ Josh Berger, artist Anish Kapoor and director Paul Greengrass.  Members are now being sought but many are questioning, given the existence of other collective lobbying voices, the need for another organisation in this space, particularly one whose membership may be too broad to allow for proper engagement on the policy issues of immediate concern.

Reading for Pleasure / Literacy

Read On Get On has released new research which shows that poor children in better off rural areas and the Home Counties are falling behind their city peers as their reading levels stagnate. The report, entitled Reading England's Future: Mapping how well the poorest children read, compared poor children’s reading ability at age 11 across the country’s 533 parliamentary constituencies. It finds that children are falling behind in affluent rural areas with a third of ‘countryside’ constituencies in the bottom quarter of the table. Children are also struggling in a number of coastal areas and market towns including much of the Suffolk and Essex coast and parts of Kent. In the most challenging areas, more than four out of ten are falling behind (42%). In the best areas, almost nine out of ten poor children read well (14%). The national average is 26%.  Read On Get On is a Save the Children-led national coalition, of which The PA is a member, which has called for all political parties to include the aim of getting all children reading well by age 11, by 2025, in their election manifestos.  Coverage of the report can be found in The Bookseller

Russell Brand gave an energetic, impassioned talk at this year's The Reading Agency  Annual Lecture where he focused on the imagination, creativity and the potential of stories to transform the way we see the world.  The PA was delighted to hear him endorse our call for every school to have a library. 

Education

The DfE has responded to parliamentary questions from Kevin Brennan MP which were prompted by reports that an academy chain had used funding from the Department to develop teaching resources which are now being made available on the commercial market.  The questions (and answers) were:

Q.     To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what resources her Department has provided to Academy chains for the development of teaching resources since May 2010.

A.      The Department for Education pays grants to academy sponsors when they take over failing schools. These are intended to support the school’s improvement. The Department makes no specific requirement that sponsors spend this grant funding on the development of teaching resources.

Q. To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what arrangements she has in place to reclaim funds paid from the public purse which have been used to help develop teaching resources subsequently sold commercially.

A. It is the Department for Education’s policy to have copyright in materials produced under contracts or grants assigned to the Crown. Where it benefits the Department we allow contractors/grant recipients to retain ownership of copyright but to provide the Department with a copyright license in the material. Breaches of copyright in material assigned to the Crown are dealt with by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Breaches of contract by contractors or grant recipients, including misuse of material which has been licensed to the Department, are dealt with by the Department subject to legal advice.

It is fair to say that these responses totally fail to address the important issue being raised and we will be discussing these further with Mr Brennan. 

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb’s praise for overseas teaching methods continues.  The Telegraph reports on his comments that primary schools should adopt Chinese-style teaching methods, with an emphasis on memorising times tables at the start of lessons so they have "instant recall" by the age of nine. According to the minister English pupils are three years behind their Chinese peers by the age of 15. "If we are to close this gap, every primary school has to ensure that every pupil can fluently recall their times tables," he said.

The Liberal Democrats have announced that they could give more powers back to local councils to intervene in struggling academy schools. Liberal Democrat Schools Minister, David Laws, says that the system of school governance introduced by Michael Gove has abandoned schools that converted from local authority control to standalone academy status, leaving them without the resources or support they need to improve.  More than 4,000 primary and secondary schools are currently rated "requires improvement" or "inadequate" out of 19,000 mainstream schools in England and Mr Laws wants responsibility for their improvements to be passed from the DfE to a "middle tier" of local authorities and academy chains, backed by successful schools and headteachers.

And finally…the Alliance for IP’s Big IP Debate is taking place on Wednesday 3rd December.  Chaired by The Times’ Chief Leader Writer, Philip Collins, the audience will hear from, and have the opportunity to question,  Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Iain Wright MP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Lord Clement-Jones, Vice Chair, APPG Intellectual Property, Professor Lionel Bentley, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property University of Cambridge, and Andrew Orlowski Executive Editor, The Register. E-mailEvents@allianceforip.co.uk for further details and to register to attend. 

This week we have: met with IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Catherine Bearder MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP and Julie Ward MEP; attended The Reading Agency Annual Lecture with Russell Brand and the National Book Awards at 11 Downing Street.

Next week we will be: meeting officials at the Department for Education, Lord Wood, policy adviser to Ed Miliband, and Nick King, Special Adviser to the Culture Secretary; attending the Copyright Advisory Panel, the All Party Writers Group Winter Parliamentary Reception, and the Alliance for IP’s Big Debate.  We will also be at the Guadalajara Book Fair!