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PA's PA 19th June

PA's PA 19th June

 Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the fragility of Cameron’s slim parliamentary majority was tested with only an abstaining Labour Party saving the Government from an early first defeat on an amendment to the European Referendum Bill which would have restricted government activity in the run up to the in/out vote next year.   Elsewhere, the Labour leadership hopefuls took part in a televised hustings.  The four (Cooper, Corbyn, Kendall and Burnham) will become one on 12 September. 

 *Breaking news*

The UK music industry has won its High Court copyright case against the Government.  UK Music, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and  the Musicians’ Union (MU)challenged the Government’s decision last year to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders. The High Court has agreed with the music industry and found that Government’s decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence – and that Government’s decision was therefore unlawful.  Further information can be found here

European update

The Reda Report was voted on this week by the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament (JURI).  The report which was finally passed has been successfully watered down in a number of key places and now includes enough measured (and in places supportive) language for it not to be so much of a concern.  Some language does remain broad and woolly, giving both sides the opportunity to claim ‘victory’, but combined lobbying efforts have managed to mitigate against some of the more damaging language from the original draft report.  Key changes include:

  • The call for an exception for elending is now being a call for the Commission to assess the adopting of an exception.  It also references the need to take into account the various pilots being undertaken.  
  • The education exception wording no longer calls for a broad exception and drastically limits the scope of people able to benefit from such an exception.
  • The text and data mining wording is also far better.  It is no longer a blanket right and “stresses the need to properly assess the enablement [of TDM] for research purposes, provided that permission to read the work has been acquired”. 

In addition, a number of new clauses have been added which are very good noting the importance of copyright and the need for any reform to be evidence based and the impact properly assessed.  We will of course be maintaining the pressure on the Parliament and continuing our engagement with UK MEPs in the run up to the vote in Plenary in July . 

The Committee’s own response can be found here.  UK MEP Mary Honeyball also issued a statement on behalf of the S&D political group which where she said that copyright reform needed to guarantee fair remuneration for creators, protect consumers’ rights, and benefits all sections of the market but “particularly those creating the films, books, and music that we love”.

Select Committee Chairs announced

The new chairs of the House of Commons Select Committees have been announced.  The full list of successful candidates can be found here, but four are of particular interest to publishing:

  • Iain Wright MP takes over at Business, Innovation and Skills.  Iain is a former Shadow Business Minister and a strong supporter of intellectual property.
  • Former member of the Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael MP becomes its new Chair.  Neil founded the APPG on Governance and Leadership in Education
  • Jesse Norman MP  becomes the new Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport.  As a trustee of the Hay Festival and author, he should be receptive to our issues
  • Nicola Blackwood MP  will Chair the Science & Technology Committee.  The MP for Oxford West & Abingdon Nicola is a classically trained musician
House of Lords debate Creative Industries

It was good to see support for the creative industries in the House of Lords remaining as strong in this Parliament as it was in the last.  In a ‘name-packed’ Chamber, Peers, including  Baroness Wheatcroft (former editor of the FT and debate initiator ), Lord (Melvyn) Bragg, Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber and Baroness Kidron (director of Oranges are not the Only Fruit and Bridget Jones 2),  debated the contribution the creative industries make to the economy.  Lord Bragg highlighted the fact that while the UK accounts for only 1% of the world’s population, we publish more than 16% of the world’ scientific research documents while the broader importance of publishing was also raised by Lord Clement-Jones who referred to it as a “great international success”.   The full debate can be read here

Open Access

New Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, has been required to gen up swiftly on open access following a parliamentary question from Stephen McPartland who asked what steps are being taken to ensure that technology and knowledge generated through UK universities and research institutions using public funding is open access.  In response, the Minister helpfully reconfirmed the Government’s committed to the Finch recommendations of 2012.  He noted that, since Finch, the Government has provided £47m to support the transition to increased open access. A PA survey was also cited which reported that within one year, as a result of UK policy, 70% of journals published open access immediately (‘Gold’) or included a Gold open access option, and 96% of journals had an embargo period of 24 months or less and 64% an embargo period of 12 months or less.

Libraries and Public Lending Right

Jim Down MP, Secretary of the All Party Writers Group, used Prime Minister’s Questions to raise the issue of PLR and the fact that local council spending cuts are leading to many public libraries being taken over by volunteer groups who don’t qualify for PLR under the legislation.  George Osborne (filling in for Cameron) promised to look into it. 

The impact funding cuts are having on schools and libraries has been highlighted by literacy agency The Bright Group.  Its founder, Vicki Wilden-Lebrecht, believes such cuts has meant fewer books than ever on display, making it harder to touch families that do not normally buy books.  She said, “The saddest thing is often there isn't a showroom for books, because of a shortage of space and a lack of funding. Schools and libraries need higher budgets to acquire more books. Children aren't exposed to enough books. Lack of discovery is probably the biggest challenge in children's publishing”. 

Education

Tristram Hunt, still in post as Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, has called for a new political consensus” on education policy and a cross-party review to agree on long-term changes to England’s exams and curriculum for 14 to 19 year olds.  He wants GCSE’s updated and an exam system which better reflects a leaving age of 18. 

This call has been echoed by the CBI which has called for GCSE’s to be scrapped within the next five years and an exam system introduced which puts vocational subjects on an equal footing with academic subjects.  Speaking at the Festival of Education, Director General, John Cridland, wants to see a system which recognises A-levels as the most important exams.  In having such major exams at the age of 16, he says: "We have to face the uncomfortable truth that - internationally - we're the oddballs."

The BBC reports that Eton College is set to launch online lessons for Chinese schools using live online tuition.  The EtonX project will see pupils in China learning from a mixture of interactive content produced at Eton, with one-to-one online teaching from tutors in the UK. The lessons, aimed at China's aspirational middle-class families, will teach secondary pupils a "modern leadership programme", taught in English and focusing on communication skills and how to work collaboratively and will cost about £700 per pupil.  Eton say any income raised by the international project will be used for bursaries to cover pupils' fees.

The Telegraph (and others) reports on research conducted by the University of Cambridge and the UCL Institute of Education which showed that children who were taught maths by Singaporean teaching methods were on average a month ahead of their peers.  The academics who completed the analysis said that the results were the first "hard evidence that introducing East Asian teaching methods into a western schooling system influences a child's maths performance".

And finally...

Is publishing about to have an ‘Uber’ moment?  The PA’s Chief Executive Richard Mollet ponders this question in his latest blog

This week we have:

Discussed the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy with the IPO; spoken at the Association of Authors’ Agents Summer Meeting; attended the UK Music Parliamentary Reception and caught up with a number of returning and new MPs; heard from the British Council about their strategic plan; received an update from Read On Get On team on the campaign’s upcoming plans; celebrated with Beanstalk their work in getting more children to read; and signed an important MoU with Taobao, part of the Alibaba group, which will see them undertake a number of measures to better combat infringement on their site. 

Next week we will be:

Meeting with Kathy Settle, Director of Digital Policy at DCMS and the Chief Executive of the newly formed Leader for Libraries Taskforce; meeting with Iain Wright MP, the new Chair of the BIS Select Committee; discussing publisher concerns with the digital market strategy with Andrew Lewer MEP; attending a meeting of the IPO’s Copyright Education & Awareness Group; meeting jointly with ALPSP and International STM to discuss common issues of concern.