Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA, a relatively quiet a week in which the main parties turned their attention to wooing the regions and the creative industries.
Creative Industries Week!
The Creative Industries Council (of which the PA is a member) has launched its strategy to deliver growth across the sector. The report, Create UK, makes a series of recommendations that, if implemented, will result in growth in the creative industries. These recommendations cover five priority areas (access to finance, education and skills; infrastructure, intellectual property; and exports and inward investment) which the Council has identified as being of particular importance to the creative industries and where a concerted focus and effort, by both government and industry, is required. Recommendations include:
- Introducing new fiscal incentives to incentivise investment in the creation and commercialisation of IP in the UK
- Embedding education om IP in appropriate modules within the national curriculum
- Requiring the Intellectual Property Office to report annually on how its activities have aided the creation of new creative works
- Supporting the interests of the UK’s creative industries with relevant international bodies
An International Strategy for the Creative Industries was also launched this week by UKTI. With shades of Tony Blair’s attempt to brand the UK as ‘Cool Britannia’, David Cameron hosted a reception in Number 10 which unfortunately saw attendees not quite being the A list that was hoped for. More Ronnie Corbett than Benedict Cumberbatch was how one paper described it. The report itself forms part of the international work stream of the Creative Industries Council’s strategy (see above). It will be delivered by government and industry and focus on new-to-export companies, current exporters seeking to further develop their international business and new trade and investment partnerships with global creative companies to access new high value opportunities.
Sieghart Review into the Future of Public Libraries in England
William Sieghart gave the keynote address at the Publishing Licensing Society’s Annual General Meeting, providing some early insight into his review into the future of public libraries in England. His comments painted a bleak picture of the library network – one that is “in crisis” and “ready to crack or break”. Sieghart drew the audience’s attention to the fact that there are 151 library authorities in England alone and questioned whether the fundamental strength of our library network, its localism, is perhaps also its greatest weakness, leading him to conclude that how libraries are currently run is dysfunctional, particularly in purchasing and service procurement. However, given the lack of appetite, locally and nationally, for what he sees as the logical solution – a national library service – there are other initiatives and best practice that should be considered. From initiatives such as ‘Pub is the Hub’ and community involvement in a manner akin to school governors to co-location centres there are many ways in which more can be achieved with less (money). He concluded that what needs to be found is a way of carrying the strength of localism within a strong national framework; one which sees Wi-Fi in every library (currently only in 37%), books being bought as one service and a National Agency for Libraries to really drive forward and promote the modern library as the central community hub.
Westminster Hall debate on VAT on e-books
Labour MP Tom Harris initiated a short Westminster Hall debate on VAT on e-books. The PA provided briefing material which was quoted at length. Mr Harris highlighted the discrepancy between the levels of VAT imposed on physical books (zero) and ebooks (20% from January 2015) and called on the Government to apply a lower rate to ebooks. In response, the Government stuck to the position of blaming Europe, citing the fact that reliefs from VAT are strictly limited under EU law (the EU directive categorises ebooks as an electronic service and therefore the VAT charge is not optional).
As reported in last week’s PA’s PA, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has finally reported on the private copying exception and given it far from a clean bill of health. Its report has now been published and confirms that it is reporting Regulation 3 of the draft Regulations “on the ground that there appears to be doubt as to whether it would be intra vires to introduce the proposed exception to copyright and rights in performance without also providing for a compensation scheme.” This exception, along with that which will introduce an exception for parody and quotation, will now be debated in the Commons on Wednesday 9th July. The date for the Lords debate is yet to be confirmed.
Consumer Rights Bill
Having passed through the Commons, the Consumer Rights Bill, rolled over from the previous parliamentary session, received its Second Reading in the Lords this week. This Bill will introduce new rights for consumers of digital content should that content be faulty or not fit for purpose. Remedies, as they stand, do not include a right to a refund, but repair or replacement.
The European Commission has published its Action Plan on Enforcement. It’s a rather unambitious document but, while skirting around a number of key issues such as the role of intermediaries, does set out 10 actions to focus the EU's IPR enforcement policy on commercial scale infringements. These include: engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders (eg online advertising agencies and payment service providers) to reduce profits from commercial-scale infringements on the internet; promoting due diligence among all actors involved in production of goods with a high degree of intellectual property; helping small businesses to enforce their IP rights more effectively by improving court procedures; improving cooperation between Member States and facilitating exchanges of best practices; and providing a series of actions to improve the international protection of IPR.
The European Commission's Directorates-General for Research and Innovation (RTD) and Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) has launched a public consultation entitled ‘Science 2.0’: Science in transition. The consultation focuses on how science and research practices are changing in the European Research Area and beyond, in particular on the transition towards open, digital science. It aims to assess stakeholders' perceptions of the opportunities and challenges of this transition and seeks input on possible policy implications and actions. The deadline for comments is 30 September 2014. The PA will discuss with its members whether a submission is required.
A UK MEP has been elected Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market. Commenting on her appointment, Vicky Ford, a Conservative MEP representing the East of England and former mathematician and banker, said, “A common set of market rules does not also mean that every market stall needs to look identical. We have many challenges ahead, especially unlocking the benefits of completing the digital single market, and reviewing how the internal market may help address energy security concerns”.
Stationers Hall: Vision 2020 and Innovation Excellence Awards 2014
The PA attended the launch of The Stationers’ Company new report: European Digital Media Landscape to 2020 - the Future of Paper & Print 2. The report considers the journey from a world of print-first to one of digital first, paying particular attention to the rise of mobile internet usage. It concludes that reports of the death of print were highly exaggerated and what instead is being seen is an integration of print into a digital-first world. The event also served as the vehicle for the organisation’s first Innovation Excellence Awards. Congratulations to PA members, Bloomsbury and Nosy Crow for their awards. The full list of winners can be seen here.
Education and teaching
As the Conservatives continue to hint at the contents of their 2015 manifesto, it becomes increasing clear that education is going to feature heavily. Following the pronouncements of previous weeks by Michael Gove, the FT(£) reported on comments made by George Osborne that lifting education standards further, instilling Britons with a greater sense of national identity and reforming welfare will be at the centre of the Conservative manifesto in next year's general election. He said, “We have all of us a battle to win on education – to take on leftwing socialist ideology in the teaching unions. We are going to win it with the basic Conservative idea that there is no reason why children from the poorest backgrounds should not have access to the best teaching and be encouraged to achieve high standards.”
Attempts by the OECD to introduce tests to compare students from higher education institutions around the world, are being opposed by Oxbridge and other elite UK universities. Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD's education assessment programme, used an interview in the FT(£) to report that they were ready to implement the scheme – which would rank the performance of third-year students by institutions – but that the idea had not progressed because of "opposition" from OECD member countries and individual universities."
The BBC reported that several schools in Edinburgh have issued pupils with their own personal electronic devices for use during lessons at school and at home. In the new school term, the City of Edinburgh Council will extend the scheme to include thousands more children, reducing the need for textbooks and photocopying.
New research from the National Literacy Trust shows that rising numbers of children in the UK enjoy reading and are increasingly likely to read outside the classroom. More than half (53.3%) say that they enjoy reading "very much" or "quite a lot", the highest level recorded by the NLT in eight years. Almost a third (32.2%) said that they read outside class on a daily basis, up from 28.4% in 2012.
The PM’s Intellectual Property Adviser, Mike Weatherley MP has announced that he will not be standing at the next general election. In his letter to the Prime Minister he references his immense pride in serving as his IP adviser and offers his continued assistance in this regard. It is not yet known whether the PM has taken him up on this offer…
Where we have been and where we are going
This week we have met with Ashley Lumsden, Special Adviser to Vince Cable MP; attended the meeting of the Creative Industries Council with the Secretaries of State for Business and Culture Media and Sport as well as the launch of Create UK with them, the Ministers for Culture and IP and various special advisers. Next week we are attending an education policy breakfast with David Laws, Minster of State for Education and primary drafter of the next Liberal Democrat manifesto, a parliamentary reception hosted by the Authors Licensing Collecting Society, a partners meeting of the Copyright Hub, the All Party Media Group’s annual reception, and meeting Education Minister, Liz Truss MP and Mike Weatherley MP, the (for now) IP Adviser to the PM.