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PA's PA 6th November

PA's PA 6th November 2015

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the issue of security took centre stage.  Unfortunate timing saw Parliament debate whether to give increased powers to the police and security services while a tragic potential terrorist attack played out in the skies over Egypt.  

Digital Single Market update

The PA’s programme of engagement with the European Commission over their plans to reform copyright law continued this week with a meeting, with FEP colleagues, with members of Commissioner Navracsics Cabinet.  While direct responsibility for copyright and the associated reforms under the DSM strategy rests with Commissioner Oettinger and DG Connect, given how decisions are made within the European Commission it is also important to engage with other interested Directorates, one of which being Navracsics’ Education and Culture.  Again, the focus of the meeting was on our proposed solution to the Commission’s perceived cross-border access to education materials used for the purpose of illustration for teaching, but the opportunity was also take to talk more broadly about the publishing industry and its contribution.  

A copy of the planned Communication for 9th December has been mysteriously leaked by the Commission and is now all over the internet.  As expected, it is pretty light on detail, mainly confirming the areas of the copyright framework the Commission believes requires attention, but pleasingly narrow in scope.  This, we believe, is a positive sign, indicating that the Commission appreciates that any such reform in this area must be extremely carefully thought through.  The areas of relevance for publishers are:

- Out of commerce works: Commission wishes to      make it easier to digitise out of commerce collections and make them  available, including across the EU
- Text and data mining: wants to allow “public     interest research organisations to carry out TDM of content they have lawful access to, with full legal certainty, for scientific research  purposes
- Illustration for teaching: wants to provide clarity on the scope of the exception and its application     to digital uses and for remote learning
- Preservation: wants to provide a    “clear space” for preservation by cultural heritage institutions,     reflecting the use of digital technologies for preservation and the needs      of born-digital and digitised works
- Research and private study: looking to support remote consultation in closed electronic networks of works held in research and academic libraries and other relevant  institutions for research and private study

The Commission is assessing options in these areas and considering legislative proposals, which will be brought forward by Spring 2016.  

Interestingly, while the short term agenda now appears to be somewhat restrained, the Commission uses this Communication to put an ambitious long term stake in the ground – that of full harmonisation of copyright in the EU, in the form of a single copyright code and a single copyright title – pointing to how it exists now for patents.   They are remarkably quiet, however, on the fact that it took over 30 years for the single European patent to be agreed!    

This is not the first time in recent years that the Commission has demonstrated the retention characteristics of a colander.  Once the contents of such a leaked document have been analysed there is always fun in the parlour game “cui bono?”  Is the source simply a profound believer in open government and wants there to be no secrets, or is there more artistry to it?  Are they leaking because they want to raise the alarm at the direction of travel – in which case we can assume that they would like to see a more radical direction than the broadly sensible document takes.  Or, are they leaking simply in order to fly a kite and gauge the reactions of people like us before going further.  Given the strong radical reformist pressures we have seen recently from some members of the European Parliament, our money is on a combination of the first two: that this is someone’s attempt to shine a strong light on the Commission’s thinking in order to alert the ‘Redaists’ that they have to up the ante on their campaigning.  

Higher education

The Government has published its Green Paper on Higher Education.  Designed to “put students at the heart of higher education” (and sitting alongside the Universities Minister’s previous announcement that universities will be able to increase fees with inflation, above the £9,000 limit, if they can demonstrate high quality teaching), the Paper 

Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice -  will consult on proposals to:

- Drive up teaching standards and give students more information through a new Teaching Excellence Framework that will encourage a greater focus on high quality teaching and graduate employment prospects

- Widen participation for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and encourage providers to increase focus on supporting all students through their course and into employment or further study.  The Minister, Jo Johnson, has said this would not be about quotas for individual institutions or giving individual students easier access, but would be about encouraging much more transparency in the applications process, with the new Office for Students (see below) having powers to require universities to release data.

- Enable students to choose from a wider range of high-quality higher education providers by making it less bureaucratic to establish a new university through faster access to Degree Awarding Powers and University Title

- Establish a new Office for Students to promote the student interest and value for money, and reduce the regulatory burden on the sector.  This will merge HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and the Office for Fair Access.  
     

Of particular interest to publishers is what it has to say on research funding (found in Part D).  The stated objectives of this review of the research landscape is to:

- Preserve the excellence of the UK research base, maintaining the dual support system through dual funding streams
- Deliver economic impact and where possible ensure that     research outcomes are exploited for the benefit of the UK
- Minimise the administrative burden the system imposes      on scientific and research leaders, enabling them to focus on the strategic      leadership of the UK’s research community
- Strengthen the voice of UK research, particularly     internationally
- Drive effective and efficient processes and clear      accountability. 

Subject to parliamentary approval, it is proposed that HEFCE will no longer have a role in regulating the higher education system or allocating grant funding for teaching and research in England, but the government is committed to maintaining the system of dual funding with a number of replacement options possible.  These range from delivering the dual support funding system through separate bodies as at present (with another body taking on HEFCE’s research role) to delivering dual support through an overarching body that brings together Research Council functions with management of institutional research funding for England.  All of this will take into account the outcome of the Nurse Review.  

Other points of interest?  The next REF will be held by 2021 and there is no direct reference to Open Access – either management of, or policy direction.  We will be gathering member views to inform our response to the Consultation, which closes on 15 January.  

Education

Education has been in the spotlight this week with the Education Secretary giving a policy-packed speech at the Policy Exchange.  As a sign of her growing confidence in the brief (and perhaps an eye on the leadership of her party), Nicky Morgan is certainly seeking to differentiate herself from her still-talked about predecessor in the post.  The speech, continuing the mission started in the last Parliament to ‘finally slay the soft bigotry of low expectations’, covered reform to the already reformed system for primary assessment with “robust” tests coming back for seven year olds, the launch of a National Teacher Service with a pilot announced in  north west of England to enlist up to 100 teachers and leaders to start work in underperforming schools, a target to get 90% of pupils achieving the Ebacc and that the number of pupils doing this will become a headline measure used to hold schools to account through Ofsted.  This has been criticised by Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell, believing this constant chopping and changing of policies is creating chaos in schools.  Morgan also reminded listeners that the Education and Adoption Bill going through Parliament will let government turn round failing schools more quickly, and get new leadership and sponsors in to coasting schools, and announced the first recipients of the £10mil. Northern Sponsor fund, which aims to get the best sponsors to take on schools in the north of England.   The Guardian reports on her speech here and The Telegraph here. 

A survey by the National Literacy Trust has found that many experienced teachers don't feel equipped with the skills and knowledge to effectively deliver literacy outcomes in their subject area.  The report, Teachers and Literacy: Their Perceptions, Understanding, Confidence and Awareness, shows that 21% of teachers are not confident they have the subject knowledge to develop pupils' ability to use English. Of the 2,326 teachers polled, 63.3% said their colleagues would benefit from improving their own literacy while 45.1% believe the quality of teaching and learning was a barrier to children's overall literacy attainment. 

The IPO launched its revamped Cracking Ideas website as a resource for teachers looking for information about copyright and a repository for lesson plans and activities to help teachers explain to pupils the importance and value of intellectual property.  This is a great site and The PA is working with the IPO to help them promote it to teachers and schools.   

And finally, interested to know more about the online copyright infringement work The PA undertakes?  Our Digital Infringement Manager Claire Anker, reports in Bookbrunch on the range of activity we undertake on behalf of our members.  

 

This week we have: 

Been back in Brussels meeting with DG Education and Culture; heard from the BBC on its planned reading initiatives for 2016; imparted wisdom on copyright to UCL students; supported the launch of the IPO’s updated Cracking Ideas website; briefed officials from developing countries on publishing practices in the UK; met with the UAE National Media Council about book importation issues. 

 

Next week we will be: 

Attending BBC Learning’s Industry Day; meeting with creative industry colleagues at the Alliance for IP Board Meeting; catching up with the Creative Industries Federation; discussing current joint issues with the Booksellers Association; meeting with the Special Adviser to the Education Secretary; attending a Westminster Forum event on Apprenticeships;  and promoting Academic Book Week!