Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week when other matters have quite rightly played second fiddle to the horrific attacks in Paris over the weekend.
Digital Single Market update
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey MP used his speech at the Salford International Media Festival to provide an update on the Government’s position on the DSM. He repeated that “The Digital Single Market is a key priority for the UK” noting that it “offers huge potential for driving jobs and growth, and has a central role to play in safeguarding Europe’s future competitiveness” and that in an increasingly digital world, the single market rules need to reflect this. He did also made it clear that we need to “ensure that the copyright framework continues to provide strong protection and reward creativity” welcoming the Commission’s commitment to modernise Intellectual Property enforcement and its focus on commercial scale infringement - the “follow-the-money approach”. The Secretary of State, John Whittingdale MP, will be meeting Vice President Ansip at the beginning of December and The PA is preparing a briefing note for him ahead of this meeting.
Jo Johnson MP
The PA this week finally met with University and Science Minister Jo Johnson MP (our previously arranged meeting having been postponed). With only half an hour at our disposal we were not able to cover all issues of relevance to us which fall under his brief, instead focusing on the role of publishers in higher education and Open Access. The Minister was very interested in how impact (both in terms of teaching and research) is measured, asking what can be done presentationally to increase impact, and was responsive to the difficulties in incentivising lecturers to write textbooks. On this we were encouraged to respond to his Teaching Excellence Framework Green Paper which we are of course doing.
On Open Access, he seemed fully supportive of OA, understood the point about maintaining Finch embargoes and will be meeting with Prof Tickell in the next two weeks to discuss his review (mentioned in previous PA’s PAs) which is still timetabled to be received by the Minister by the end of the year. All eyes will be on next week’s Spending Review to see how this will impact Research Council Funding.
Publication of Nurse Review
Sir Paul Nurse has published his independent review on the future of the UK Research Councils. The government asked Sir Paul to carry out the review to ensure that the UK continues to support world-leading science and invests public money in the best possible way. This is a very useful document for anyone who wants an easy-to-read background of the UK research environment. The Report spends a substantial amount of time defining the different types of research before going onto to provide some thoughts on guidelines and principles which should be followed when deciding what to research, focusing on who, what and where. On funding, Nurse is clear that research funding decisions should be made by those best placed to judge the research and that funders should recognise that delivering the highest quality research is difficult, requiring patience, persistence and long-term investment. With regards to the Research Councils specifically he identifies the following as issues the Councils should individually and collectively work on:
- Delivering consistently high quality international level peer review, sharing and promulgating best practice;
- Reviewing of inter-disciplinary research proposals should be improved by using reviewers experienced in judging this type of research;
- Assembling appropriate peer review panels with greater consistency in the operation of subsequent grant award panels;
- Speeding up the grants assessment process;
- Improving outcome reporting systems, transparency and feedback;
- Ensuring diversity in funding options; and
- Strengthening links with the research community.
Responding to the Review’s publication, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Our research base is world-class and this government is committed to ensuring its continued success. I welcome this independent report and would like to thank Sir Paul for providing his expertise and insight.
Sir Paul’s recommendations reinforce the important steps the Research Councils are taking to work together in a more strategic and efficient way. The government will carefully consider the proposal to establish Research UK and we will respond in detail to the report in due course.
I encourage everyone with an interest in the future of our research and innovation landscape to consider this review alongside the proposals set out in the Higher Education Green Paper we published recently.”
The EPP Group in the European Parliament (the Group the Conservative’s used to be part of) has published its position paper on Copyright. On the whole, this is a positive paper and useful in that it gives an indication as to the position this Group will take when the Digital Single Market package goes through the Parliament. The main points of interest are:
Acknowledgement of the contribution of the creative industry to the European economy, and recognition of the importance of contractual freedom and fair remuneration for right holders.
Welcome for the Commission’s intention to tackle geo-blocking, but emphasises the importance of the principle of territoriality and the value created by exclusive rights to the competitiveness and sustainability of the creative sector (in this EPP seems to try to strike a balance between territoriality and portability)
Concern expressed on exceptions with the Group not supporting their full harmonisation, but seeming to prioritise market-led solutions over them. The need to take into account the three-step test in any revision of the system of exceptions and limitations is highlighted. Specifically:
Regarding the exception for research and educational purposes, EPP clarifies that this exception should be strictly limited to research and educational purposes, and be linked to an educational establishment or research institution.
EPP asks the Commission to consider a possible exception allowing public and research libraries to legally lend works in digital format for personal use on condition of fair compensation for right holders (this point is of serious concern and something we will pick up on with FEP).
On text and data mining, the importance of modern research techniques to scientific breakthroughs is emphasised, but does not adequately address copyright issues related to such techniques.
Finally, as concerns intermediaries and platforms, the Group asks for a clarification of the legal status and the role of platforms and content providers in order to reassess the liability of service providers for copyright infringements, and further recognises the need for a consultation between the right holders, the platforms and the creators.
Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, has given his clearest support to date for the use of textbooks in schools. Mr Gibb was addressing the annual PA/BESA Education Conference in Central London a year on from his controversial appearance at the same event when he challenged publishers to raise the standard of British-produced textbooks. In stark contrast to his critical comments of a year ago, Mr Gibb praised British education publishers for the work they have been undertaking to ensure the resources they produce are of the highest quality and stand comparison with the best materials worldwide. Mr Gibb particularly highlighted the challenge in changing what he termed the ‘anti-textbook ethos’ which has been allowed to take hold in the UK, and urged publishers and teacher trainers to work with him to ‘change the zeitgeist’. “Schools”, he said, “have been told not to demand high quality textbooks”. Pointing to how using a well-crafted high quality textbook aids teaching, reduces workload and increases pupil attainment, the Minister called on publishers, Ofsted, teacher training colleges and teachers themselves to work with the Government to change this attitude and embed textbook-based learning firmly within the classroom, commenting that “We must work together to encourage the demand of high quality teaching resources”. Read more about the PA/BESA Quality Guidelines for textbooks here.
In this speech the Minister also referred to his desire to see publishers provide to schools at low cost a cannon of 100 classic novels (classic in that they need to be out of copyright). Read more here.
Reading for Pleasure
The BBC this week announced its Get Reading campaign for 2016 – a year-long programme of activity designed to get the nation reading. Get Reading includes a Get Reading Weekend in November, a digital and social media campaign from BBC Learning and specially-commissioned programmes across BBC TV, Radio and online. Activity in the spring will be based around the BBC Shakespeare Festival 2016 - a major season celebrating the genius of William Shakespeare, 400 years after his death, while over the summer there will be a season of children’s books on the BBC, at the heart of which will be programming marking the centenary of Roald Dahl. The PA, and many of our members, is in close dialogue with the BBC to see how we can help, assist and get involved.
This week we have:
Met with Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson MP, caught up with the copyright and digital single market policy leads at DCMS; discussed future governance and work of the Read On Get On coalition with Dame Julia Cleverdon and Gareth Jenkins from Save the Children; spoken at EY’s event on the economics of The Premier League; held our annual education conference with Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools, as keynote speaker; caught up with Creative Content UK and heard more about the progress of the Get It Right from a Genuine Site campaign; been at the Birmingham Skills Show highlighting to students and career advisers the wide range of jobs available in publishing.
Next week we will be:
Closely monitoring the Chancellor's Spending Review announcement for news on the Apprenticeship Levy and research funding; meeting with IPO to discuss their plans for the repeal of Section 52; attending the launch of Creative Futures; meeting with Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; going to the launch of the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge; attending a meeting of the Creative Industries Council Export Sub Group; meeting with FEO colleagues in Strasbourg and attending their Author-Publisher Dialogue with Mary Honeyball MEP, Julie Ward MEP and Vicky Ford MEP.