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PA's PA 16th October

PA's PA 16th October

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the global publishing community decamped to Frankfurt for the annual Book Fair.   

Digital Single Market update

The Annual FEP Rendezvous heard from two senior Commission officials – Jens Nymand-Christensen, Deputy Director-General, DG Education and Culture and Gerard de Graaf, Director of Digital Economy & Coordination from DG Connect.  Both were hugely complimentary about the publishing industry and how we have been harnessing digital opportunities and stressed the need for a balanced approach to reform and the need for fair remuneration for the use of content.   

De Graaf, after repeating the well-worn but frustrating mantra about why there is no ‘European Netflix’, provided reassurance that we should not read ‘modernisation of copyright’ as ‘weakening of copyright’.  He commented that they didn’t want to change the incentives to create but rather help the sector cope with the changes which are taking place.  The policy interventions being considered were more like “micro surgery” than wholescale reform and that even this would only take place once it was absolutely clear that not only was reform needed but that the Commission was the best ‘person’ to conduct that reform (on a number of occasions it was stressed that burden of proof, the responsibility for proving the need for reform, was very much on the Commission). Co-regulatory solutions are clearly being actively considered albeit to be underpinned by a new legislative framework.  De Graaf was clear that any proposals need to be win/win, balanced, holistic, ensure a level playing field, and technological neutral, BUT that they should also address the current problem of fragmentation of implementation across the EU.  These comments were echoed by Commissioner Oettinger himself at a separate event.   

In terms of timescales, on 9th December the Commission will publish a Communication setting out how the work around copyright will be taken forward and clarifying the Commission’s direction of travel.  Legislative proposals – which will be in the form of Regulations – will be published to address issue of portability of content (ensuring consumers with subscriptions to content services having access to this service when  temporarily  abroad) and to implement the Marrakesh Treaty.   

Stage two will come in Spring next year (although de Graaf did warn us that Spring doesn’t end until 21st June!) when detailed proposals will be published on platforms, intermediaries, cross border access, value gap and copyright exceptions on research, education and TDM.  Initiatives on enforcement will also be in the spring with the emphasis being on the follow the money approach although reference was also made to a need to ensure that injunctive relief is available, and able to be given effect, across Europe.   

The PA was also able to have a private half an hour meeting with Gerard de Graaf where we were able to discuss research and education exceptions more thoroughly and demonstrate the digital innovation taking place in education publishing.   

Other news from Frankfurt 

Members of the IPA (International Publishers Association) Copyright Committee heard from colleagues in Canada over the problems they are facing following the reform to Canadian copyright law in 2013.  The main victim (as predicted) from the government’s decision to introduce fair use into a broad education exception has been the education system as a whole.   A report from PwC has shown that education publishers have suffered a $30million loss in licensing income which in turn has had a significant impact on their ability to invest in and create new resources.  The research concluded that 50% of SME publishers say they will produce less content for education and reduce investment in digital products.  The South African Publishers Association also had a worrying story to tell with their government proposing radical changes to copyright law.  Proposed is a broad exception for education, the introduction of fair use, contract override and compulsory licensing for out of commerce works.  The PA is raising concerns with the UK IPO who are arranging a meeting with the SA DTI to discuss this draft bill.   

The IPA also grew this week new members being accepted from Bangladesh, China, Greece, Jordan and Peru. It also voted to give Full Member status to the associations from Saudi Arabia, Slovenia and Tunisia.  IPA President Richard Charkin said he was delighted to welcome these new members to the IPA commenting that “A broadened membership will help our ongoing campaigns for copyright and freedom to publish around the world, and the number and spread of the new applicants is particularly heartening”.   

BBC Charter Review

The PA has responded to the Government’s consultation of the BBC Charter Review.  Although the consultation did not touch upon our critical policy issues, such as copyright, the digital single market or education funding, and even though we have no meaningful views on the governance or funding of the BBC, we felt it important to highlight the great many synergies between the role and activities performed by the BBC and publishers and our historic common role in educating, informing and entertaining.  The submission can be read here and a blog on this subject by our Chief Executive here.   

Education 

The Sunday Express reported on the work being undertaken by the publishing industry to increase standards of textbooks in the UK.  Nick Gibb has said that textbooks can give pupils a more structured education, save money and help parents support children outside school.  This has not been met warmly by some of the teaching unions with NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates believing that “lurking behind this is an agenda to impose even more rigid and narrow plans for teaching”.   

This week we have been: 

At the Frankfurt Book Fair catching up with colleagues from around the world, discussing common issues and sharing best practice and meeting with the Governor of the Bank of England (in a highly informal setting).  

Net week we will be:

Meeting with Anna Herod from Commissioner Oettinger’s Cabinet to discuss the copyright exception for education; attending the Copyright Advisory Panel meeting with IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe; attending the Creative Industries Council with Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP and Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP.