Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which Labour held its annual conference in Liverpool and Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership race (again!). His election was followed by appeals for unity across the party, but Lord Mandelson apparently missed the memo when he admitted he was desperate for an early general election to end the “awful situation” that the party was facing under Mr Corbyn. Undeterred by such criticism, Jeremy Corbyn and his frontbench team unveiled new policies to bring about "21st century socialism” for Britain. These included taxing the super-rich, building 12,000 new council houses, blocking arms sales to abusive regimes, a £10 minimum wage, a ban on fracking and a migrant impact fund to ease the effects of immigration. Next up on the party conference calendar is the Conservatives in Birmingham where we can expect there to be much talk about how the Brexit negotiations are (or are not) progressing and speculation as to whether Theresa May should call an early election. For those of you less interested in British politics at the moment you can of course look across the pond where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump slugged it out in the first TV debate of the presidential campaign. While most polls showed that Hilary Clinton was thought to have won, Donald Trump continues to defy expectations and all received political wisdom. Trump claimed he had not prepared for the debate and that seemed to have a ring of truth to it when at one unbelievable moment he stated that he was "too smart" to pay taxes.
In this week’s edition:
Brexit and Digital Single Market update
The PA attended a meeting at the IPO to discuss the impact of Brexit on the publishing industry and to start exploring what publishers would like to see in terms of our future trading relationship in relation to copyright and IP with both the EU and rest of the world. It was a wide ranging initialdiscussion which covered topics such as the implications for existing legislation, the importance of having a clear commitment to respect for copyright included in future trade negotiations, and the need for certainty for businesses. One particular area the IPO raised was around exhaustion of rights and the impact Brexit will have on the principle of first sale. The PA will be exploring this with the policy group and legal advisers.
It was also an opportunity to share views on the Commission’s new copyright directive. The PA explained its relative satisfaction with the drafting of some of the measures but used the opportunity to question their impact on, and relevance to, existing UK law. The point was also made of the need for it to be made clear in European legislation the accessing of content under one exception does not give the user the right to make further use of that content under another exception. The UK appears sympathetic to this.
IPO personnel changes
A number of IPO staff have moved across to the new Department for International Trade. These include John Alty, Chief Executive, Rosa Wilkinson Director Innovation and Neil Feinson, Director International Policy. Their roles have been filled by the following people:
- Sean Dennehey, Acting CEO
- Adam Williams, Acting Director International Policy
- Pippa Hall, Acting Director Innovation (while remaining Chief Economist)
The IPO’s organisation chart can be viewed here.
Jeremy Corbyn used his speech at Labour conference to announce plans for a “national education service”. Funded by a rise in corporation tax, he would reinstateeducation maintenance allowances for students, as well as funding grants to university students. “Business shares in economic success and it must contribute to it too,” he said. Mr Corbyn also pledged to introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England and Wales and consult on a national rollout to secondary schools.
Opposition MPs also discussed the Government’s new plans for apprenticeships and the higher education sector. At a fringe event Gordon Marsden, shadow skills minister, called on the Government to focus on the “multi-layered threat” of Brexit to higher education institutions, rather than ploughing ahead with a new higher education bill. He criticised the government for trying to push the bill through without sufficient consideration despite its complexity. He also warned that the standing of British universities would be damaged if the Government was not able to deliver research funding beyond Horizon2020. This criticism of the higher education bill was echoed by the Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, Professor David Phoenix. Phoenix called on MPs to amend the Higher Education and Research Bill to champion a vision of 21st century universities that supports teaching, research, enterprise and reaching out to all communities. Prof. Phoenix stated that current government policy is driving the marketisation of universities as 'businesses'. This, he believes, is increasing the focus on competition, and growing the division between teaching and research - the two of which are vital for both universities and students.
Meanwhile at a separate fringe event Marsden said the Government had not lived up to the targets it had set for apprenticeships, warning that there were significant issues around the process of the levy and the Government’s capacity to deliver it. Meanwhile Labour MP Stephen Timms said it was unclear whether apprenticeships would be adequate for future employment needs. He said that although there was a lot of potential in the policy, there was a risk it could be mired in uncertainty. He called on the government to set out how it would measure improvements in productivity and how apprenticeships were delivering against these objectives.
The Government’s commitment to the Ebacc has been questioned by former Tory Education Secretary Lord Baker. In an article in the Telegraph, the peer argues that it is too narrowly defined as it leaves little room for pupils’ wishing to add a creative or technical subject and is leading to many pupils having to drop a subject to meet government requirements to take up a foreign language. While this, he says, may be a laudable ambition, such compulsion will not guarantee pass rates or ability. He believes that allowing pupils to focus on technical and vocational subjects if they wish will ultimately help boost youth employment figures and narrow the UK’s skills gap. Lord Baker is chair of the education charity EDGE which is proposing a new Baccalaureate which would see students study a technical subject, like Design and Technology and a creative options such as art or dance alongside existing requirements.
Higher Education & Brexit
This week the House of Commons Education Committee became the latest in a string of committees to launch an inquiry into Brexit this week, looking at how exiting the European Union will affect higher education. The inquiry will look at the implications of the UK’s exit for EU students and staff who want to work and study in English universities and look at what protections should be given to those who are already in the UK. It will also assess the ramifications of Brexit on British people wanting to work and study at higher education institutions in the EU. The Committee will also examine how Brexit will affect the reputation of England’s universities, and the future of the Erasmus student exchange programme. However, it will not look at the impact on university research and funding, which falls under the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s remit. The committee’s chair Neil Carmichael MP said: ‘There are fears that Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will have a negative impact on higher education. Concerns range from being able to attract the brightest students from across Europe to making sure UK universities maintain their places among the world's best.’ He added that the committee wanted to examine the opportunities for higher education post-Brexit and consider what the Government’s priorities should be in the upcoming negotiations.
IP Crime Report
The IPO has published its annual IP Crime Report. The report highlights current and emerging threats surrounding counterfeiting and piracy, including those conducted via the internet. The report also contains statistical data and enforcement activities from UK law enforcement agencies such as trading standards, police, border force and a number of industry bodies, including information and data from the Publishers Association on physical and ebook piracy. The report stresses that collaborative working is key to enforcing IP rights and notes that although we are seeing success in some areas, there are still noticeable challenges such as online marketplaces selling counterfeit and pirate goods. In her Foreword, IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe made reference to the referendum result, commenting that it may change our relationship with our fellow Europeans. She stresses however that it will not change the collective desire throughout Europe to deal with IP crime. “This Government, law enforcement partners and IP Crime Group members will continue to work with our international colleagues to do all we can to keep our consumers safe and to provide an environment in which legitimate businesses can thrive” she writes.
PA President Stephen Barr has set out his priorities in an interview with the Bookseller this week. His main priorities include promoting free speech through extending the Defamation Act 2012, which helped limit the potential of nuisance suits in England and Wales, enhancing diversity in the publishing industry and promoting publishing as a career, particularly among those who might not traditionally considered it as an option. His interview also looked at the impact of Brexit on the publishing industry, such as the ability for the UK to make its own decisions on copyright enforcement and intellectual property, and the challenges facing academic publishing, particularly around the erosion of confidence in the role of the industry among the academic community. Read the interview in full here.
This week we have:
Attended Labour Conference; met with SCONUL (Society of National and University Libraries); discussed Brexit and the Commission’s new copyright directive with the IPO; met with the Digital and Culture Minister’s policy adviser; finalised plans for the first Parliamentary Book Awards with the Booksellers Association; met with our Reading for Pleasure literacy charity partners to plan future activity; met with the Creative Industries Federation; discussed upcoming activity with Jisc; attended the Library Taskforce working group on PLR and elending; discussed the implications of the court decision in the Delhi University case with colleagues.
Next week we will be:
At the Conservative Party Conference; attending a briefing by BBC Learning on its new science campaign; meeting with colleagues on the Accessibility Action Group; discussing the new copyright directive with the IPO’s Director of Copyright; discussing next steps on the apprenticeship levy with members; briefing UCL MA students on the work of the PA; meeting with Sarah Bull of UKSG;