Welcome to this week’s PA PA; one in which the London Book Fair and Westminster bubbles momentarily intersected as the resignation of Maria Miller sent tremors through the planning offices of the Korea Market Focus events team.
As with last week although there were no fresh pronouncements from Government on the Modernising Copyright statutory instruments there was plenty of discussion and manoeuvring going on behind the scenes. It now looks likely that the IP Minister Viscount Younger will be required to give oral evidence to the Scrutiny Committee. This is relatively unusual and is the result of MPs needing to consider properly the strong mis-givings expressed by a number of rightsholders, The PA and International Association of STM included. Meanwhile jointly with the Alliance for Intellectual Property we have prepared the attached note on the changes which we believe are required to the Explanatory Memorandum. There has been some indication of a willingness to consider these. Colleagues with an unhealthy interest in Erskine & May (the bible of Parliamentary procedure) are calculating whether the SIs can still be passed into law by 1 June, and whether they need to be relaid following the forthcoming prorogation at the end of the Parliamentary session. Interpretation of the rules seems more art than science, but the overall view is don’t bet your house on government meeting the commencement date.
The DfE has published new and – it says – more rigorous A level and GCSE content, to be taught from 2015 and 2016 respectively. The Education Secretary Michael Gove also announced an additional set of GCSEs and A levels which will be reformed for first teaching from 2016. In parallel with the Department publishing this new content, Ofqual has announced decisions and proposals for assessment arrangements in these subjects. Further documentation on A levels is here; and GCSEs here.
The European Court of Justice has declared that the current system of home levies in the Netherlands and Austria is incompatible with European law. The case, known amongst the legal-eagles as “ACI Adam”, was taken to Europe by the Dutch Supreme Court which wanted clarity as to whether imposing home copying levies as a fair compensation for downloading copyright protected content from an illegal source was compatible with EU law. The ECJ answered that levies should only apply with respect to copies made from lawful sources and therefore that the harm suffered by rightsholders as a result of unlawful copies cannot be taken into account when calculating the amount of the levy. Even though the UK does not employ a levy regime and the judgment itself brought no surprises, there are nevertheless implications for the position in the UK. In seeking to introduce a private copying exception but without any compensatory mechanic, such as a levy scheme, the IPO is arguing that its exception is considerably narrower than that in other member states such as the Netherlands. But that logic has taken a knock because the ECJ has effectively told the Netherlands that it has to have a much narrower purview of the area covered by an exception and yet still have a levy system in place. You can see why the lawyers get off on this stuff.
International Education Copyright
Speaking at the International Publishers Association education conference “What Works”, WIPO head Francis Gurry set out the scene for international copyright reform. He noted the success of the visually impaired treaty and said that the next round of discussions would be on libraries and archives. The third area of debate, education, was, he said, less clearly defined but that the broad positions were clear: those seeking to redress imbalances in development between countries were seeking to use copyright (and specifically the ability to access education resources freely) as a tool. Publishers had to hep WIPO come to an informed view through: providing a clear account of the socio-economic value of educational publishing resources; demonstrating and explaining the innovation taking place in the sector; and helping achieve balance in the copyright debate. Mr Gurry agreed with The PA’s question that this was not a debate which rightsholders could even win as such, and that the pressure to get free access to valued resources would always be present.
Change at the Top
Maria Miller’s resignation has led to David Cameron appointing his third Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport in four years (thus equalling Labour’s record in this regard). The new Secretary of State is Sajid Javid MP, the Conservative member for Bromsgrove. He will also inherit the Minister for Equalities brief, which given he is the first British Asian to serve in the Cabinet seems highly appropriate. The PA will of course be seeking an audience with Mr Javid as early as possible. Being most recently a Treasury Minister and prior to being an MP an investment banker, we suspect we are not going to have to explain the importance of seeing publishing as a vital business sector, and not an off-shoot of the arts. It will be interesting to hear his view on VAT too.
Who We’ve Met and Forthcoming Meetings
Korean Minister of Culture Mr Yoo; Francis Gurry, Lord Clement-Jones, Sir Martin Davidson of the British Council; and next week we will be meeting again with John Woodward who is leading the Labour Party’s creative industries review.