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PA's PA 2nd September 2016

PA's PA 2nd September

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which Theresa May announced her intention to start Brexit negotiations, and thereby trigger Article 50, in “early 2017”.  The week also saw the European Commission rule against Ireland and the tax deal it had arranged with Apple.  Some might think evoking the ire of one member so soon after losing another is slightly poorly timed.  To (badly) paraphrase Lady Bracknell, to lose one member may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness…

In this edition:

Digital Single Market Update

Leaked versions have been posted online of the Commission’s copyright proposals, to be embodied in a new directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market, and the accompanying impact assessment.  The PA has been working closely with its colleagues at FEP and STM to influence the direction of these proposals and some results of this activity can be seen in these proposals. 

 

  • The new illustration for teaching exception to cover digital uses is flexible enough to allow the UK’s current licensing system to remain in place (a key point on which we had been lobbying);
  • The text and data mining exception does contain strong elements found in the UK exception – people must already have legal access to the content and publishers will be able to maintain control of their networks (in this regard it is actually better than that which we have in the UK as this point is actually written into the directive itself – in the UK we have to rely on accompanying guidance and Hansard references).  However, there is one very important deviation – it is proposed to allow the results of the mining to be used for commercial purposes.  In addition, while the beneficiaries of the exception (those undertaking the mining) are limited to public interest research organisations – stated as being universities and research institutes but not commercial companies – those undertaking research projects as part of a public private partnership would also be able to avail themselves of the exception.  So, in summary, the miner needs to be from a non-commercial entity or part of a public private research project, but what they can then do with the mined content can be commercial.  We will be discussing with STM and FEP what further action is needed and is indeed possible. 
  • A new right for press publishers is proposed.  While the consultation (reported in previous PA’s PAs) explored the option that such a new right could apply to all publishers it wasn’t even presented as an option in the impact assessment.  It is noted as a ‘discarded option’ and not considered as it was felt to ‘not be an proportionate way to address the problems faced by the publishing industry’.  Again, we will be discussing next steps with colleagues and members.  The Commission has, however, correctly separated Reprobel from the publishers right but instead of ‘fixing’ it themselves, are introducing a mechanism which will allow member states to ‘fix’ it.
  • On author remuneration, the Commission is proposing to legislate around transparency of reporting, contract adjustment mechanism (best-selling clause) and dispute resolution mechanism.  While these are principles publishers already have in place (and therefore would see no issues in complying with such legislation), many are struggling to agree with proposals which would see contractual obligations codified by the State as opposed to individually negotiated. 

 

The drafts are now subject to Interservice Consultation (the mechanism where all the other directorates have their say).  Once it passes this, it will be adopted as a Commission proposal and will pass to the European Parliament and Council (which will include the UK – at least for the time being) for discussion.  This will probably take around 18 months and does mean that the final proposals could look very different to what we are seeing now.  In addition, while we should also, perhaps, take heart in the fact that the proposals are coming in for criticism from those who wished to see even greater relaxation of the copyright framework – an outcome which would see more copyright-protected work being able to be used without permission or payment! – this does mean that our work on this is by no means over.   We are, as we are constantly being reminded by government, still part of the EU and therefore engagement remains important.  The PA is in Brussels Tuesday and Wednesday meeting with a number of Commission officials on this and will feed back any further intelligence.

Brexit update

The new Cabinet gathered for the first time at Chequers to discuss the state of the economy, how productivity can be increased, getting tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business so that everyone is able to share in the country’s prosperity and the upcoming parliamentary legislative programme.

Brexit featured heavily in all of these discussions with each Cabinet Minister being invited to present on how growth and productivity were going to be achieved in their areas in a post-Brexit world (the PA was invited to feed some information into DCMS on publishing).  The PM  gave a very strong focus to social reform saying that: “We want to be a government and a country that works for everyone, and we’ll be talking about some of the steps that we need to take in order to build that society that works for everyone. And I want it to be a society where it’s the talent that you have and how hard you’re prepared to work that determines how you get on, rather than your background”. To bolster this activity, a new Cabinet Committee on Social Reform has been announced.  This follows on from the creation of another new Cabinet Committee on  Economy and Industrial Strategy.

Confusion does still reign, however, over whether the UK will have tariff-free access to the single market.  Speaking to the Cabinet at Chequers, the PM made controls on immigration a red line in her negotiations with her EU counterparts, even if this impacts trade.  In contrast, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davies MP, has slightly made tariff-free access his red line while backing the PM’s comments “100%”. 

Corbyn’s Digital Manifesto

Jeremy Corbyn, as part of his leadership campaign, launched his digital manifesto.  The rationale for this is that “with rapid advances in digital technology, data and information can become sources of inequality and exploitation as well as. This digital manifesto is about ensuring that our advances are shared, utilised and enjoyed by everyone, as part of a wider strategy to rebuild and transform Britain so that no one and no community is left behind.”  Of particular relevance to publishers is the section on the creation of an Open Knowledge Library.  Corbyn commits to creating a free-to-use on-line hub of learning resources for the National Education Service. According to the Manifesto, “The Open Knowledge Library will be the digital repository of lessons, lectures, curricula and student work from Britain’s nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. We will require the findings of all state-funded research to be made available without charge to the general public through this learning portal. In collaboration with the teachers’ unions and the NUS, the Open Knowledge Library will host virtual meeting places for educational professionals and students to share experiences, disseminate ideas and form collaborations”.  We will be seeking meetings with his team to explain about Open Access, the investment made by publishers in academic research and education learning materials (and their corresponding impact on increasing pupil attainment and reducing teacher workload) as well as the Access to Research initiative. 

BBC funding – new report from the Centre for Policy Studies

In a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies, A Licence to Kill: funding the BBC, the think tank makes the case for either the abolition of the licence fee or an end to the expansion to the BBC – arguing that the scope of the BBC and the licence fee are intertwined – restrict the BBC’s expansion and the licence fee becomes less defensible; take away the licence fee and the requirement for the BBC to offer something for everyone on every platform is ended.  Its author Martin Le Jeune comments: “The BBC should no longer seek to be bigger and to provide everything to everyone. There is no reason for providing that universal service via a compulsory tax, when people could choose instead how to spend their own money on what they really want. It should instead specialise in what no-one else can do. In doing so it will become not only a smaller organisation, but a better one – providing a genuinely necessary and distinctive service. Nearly everything the BBC provides, is now provided to the same or better standard by other organisations which have to compete with one another and fight hard for every consumer penny. That competition is the spur to improvements in quality, service and innovation.”  He concludes that the licence fee should be abolished and the BBC instead be directly-funded by the government, in exactly the same way as the Arts Council or the NHS.

CBI highlights importance of supporting the UK’s creative industries

A report from the CBI has highlighted the importance of the creative industries, calling on the government to improve support for the sector’s international ambitions. The report notes that exports from the sector compare favourably with other, sometimes more high-profile industries, contribute a substantial amount to the UK economy, and help drive our soft power overseas through boosting our reputation as a hub for culture and innovation. Among other things the CBI says the government should place a priority on diplomatic efforts to ensure the creative industries are better-placed to operate in the overseas market, ensure that the creative industries international strategy and export programmes are driven by bodies with specialist sectoral expertise and work with businesses to improve data for the sector.  The full report and its recommendations can be read here.

While we were away

IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, visited China and Hong Kong.  The PA accompanied the Minister as part of her official delegation which included attending the Beijing International Book Fair and the China / UK IP Symposium.  In her speech at the Symposium, Baroness Neville Rolfe reiterated that the UK is – and remains – open for business and drew attention to the agreement signed between Tencent and UK businesses. The agreement aims to enhance IP protection on the WeChat social network, which has 800 million active users.  The International Publishers Copyright Protection Coalition in China (IPCC) was one of the signatories.  The IPCC is a group of 20 multinational publishers in China, and is supported by the Publishers Association and the Association of American Publishers. The MOU demonstrates further progress towards cracking down on copyright infringement in China, which often poses a problem for UK publishers.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock MP, delivered the Edinburgh International Culture Summit's opening ceremony speech.  On the creative economy he commented that “Creative industries here in the UK are responsible for over four million jobs, over £200 billion of value added and one of the most rapidly growing parts of our economy. They employ people of all ages and I think that at this point it is relevant to welcome the younger participants who are playing such a central role.”

This week we have:

Met with the Creative Industries Council to discuss what opportunities Brexit may offer the creative industries; poured over the leaked Commission proposals on copyright; settled back in after the summer holidays!

Travelling to Brussels and meeting with the Heads of Office of Commissioners Ansip, Oettinger and Malmstrom (commissioners responsible for digital single market, digital economy and society and trade); meeting with Sue Bishop, Director of the Creative, Consumer and Sports team at the new Department for International Trade; meeting with the Publishing Research Consortium; attending the Copyright Awareness and Education Group meeting at the Intellectual Property Office; briefing the Lib Den Creative Industries team on the impact of the digital single market proposals on the publishing industry; meeting with the BBC on its #lovetoread campaign.