Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA. Cameron clearly felt that by promising a vote on the controversial (at least for the Conservatives) European Arrest Warrant ahead of the Rochester By-Election next week, he was pulling if not the rug but some threads on a rug out under UKIP’s feet. However, he failed to take into account that some beady-eyed Westminster procedural wonks would spot that Parliament would not actually be voting on the EAW prompting Labour to pull from the depths of Erskine May an arcane motion to halt the (non) vote. The Government narrowly managed to head off defeat, Cameron having to dash from the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to vote in his white tie, but the blame game as to who is responsible for the debacle continues. Candidates include Home Secretary Theresa May, Chief Whip Michael Gove and, if you believe Dan Hodges, the Speaker John Bercow. Miliband continues to be unable to capitalise on these problems, though, with new polling showing him as the most unpopular Opposition leader of all time.
European Copyright Developments
Copyright reform continues to feature prominently in discussions surrounding the priorities of the new Commission, even though details as to what this may mean and what form it may take remain sketchy. Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has written to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the Prime Minister of Italy which currently holds the Presidency of the Council, outlining his 10 priorities for his Commission. The second of these priorities is a “Connected Digital Single Market” which contains within it a proposal on copyright reform.
Vice President Ansip (Digital Single Market) held a high-level meeting between all the “Digital Single Market Commissioners” to kick off five years ofconfusion duplication teamwork. His blog post following the meeting starts to give us a bit more information on Ansip’s priorities and the Commission’s potential direction of travel. (Frustratingly, while he says that “content that matters” unfortunately the “content” he is referring to is the content of the meeting!) On copyright, he notes the need to remove restrictions on, and the blocking of, online consumers based on their location or residence and talks about reforming copyright rules and getting rid of unjustified curbs on transfer and access to digital assets – geo-blocking going against the core principles of Europe’s single market. The plan is to come up with a fully developed DSM strategy by May 2015 so there is clearly lots of work for us to do between now and then.
The Legal Affairs (JURI) committee of the European Parliament which considers matters relating to copyright has announced two new initiatives.
1) A creation of a working group on IP Rights and Copyright Reform. This will be co-ordinated by Jean-Marie Cavada, a supportive MEP from France. It will meet once a month and hear from experts. We will be working with our FEP colleagues to suggest publisher experts for the Working Group to hear from.
2) An implementation report on the Information Society Directive (formerly the Copyright Directive) which will be led by the Parliamentary Research Unit and include an impact assessment. Again, via FEP, we are in touch with this Unit and the publishers’ position has already been submitted. Unfortunately, the rapporteur elected for this report is Julia Reda, a German Pirate MEP. This is worrying as rapporteurs have significant power over the tone and content of parliamentary reports. We hope that it was perhaps a strategic decision from members of the Committee to let the Greens put their points on this own-initiative report and then have a decent MEP be rapporteur of the legislation. Time will tell.
The JURI committee also held a joint hearing with the Culture (CULT) committee on the future of copyright. Maria Martin-Pratt, Head of the Copyright Unit in the Commission, didn’t say much other than this was a high priority of the Commission. In particular she would not be drawn on whether Ansip’s 6 months or Oettinger’s 1-2 years was the likely timeframe for proposals to be brought forward. The hearing also heard from the perennial copyright-doomsayer Martin Kretschmer of the CREATe research (*cough*) institute. According to Kretschmer, copyright is not good for artists and rightsholders are evil for forcing consumers to spend money.
As flagged in The PA’s PA of 31.10.14, the Intellectual Property Office has requested information from a number of content industries on what the impact is likely to be should Brussels amend rules surrounding licensing and territoriality. The PA’s submission noted the existence already of pan-European licensing in the publishing industry but stressed the damage that could be done should such licensing be mandatory, in particular the impact such a move would have on Europe’s cultural diversity, given that it would only be global US-based platform companies able to secure such pan-European licences. We also reminded the Government of the position it took in its own response to the European Commission’s consultation on Review of the EU Copyright Rules. This stated that market-led licensing arrangements can and are increasing the cross-border availability of content services in the Single Market and it remains unclear what other, unspecified and unidentified, actions would enhance such availability.
Reading for Pleasure / Literacy
The newly ennobled Baroness Rebuck of Bloomsbury used her maiden speech in the House of Lords to draw the House’s attention to the continuing problems the country faces with illiteracy and highlighted the excellent work being done by charities in the UK including the National Literacy Trust, World Book Day and Quick Reads.
The PA held its second Reading for Pleasure roadshow at the offices of Egmont. This was extremely well-attended and two more roadshows are already in the pipeline.
According to The Telegraph, a new College of Teaching, which will provide training, carry out research and set professional standards for teachers, is now imminent following an announcement of a funding package from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The College will be independent of Government but Mrs Morgan is keen to support the move as part of a drive to raise the status of teaching.
Nicky Morgan’s comments that children would be better advised to study science rather than arts subjects from the age of 16 onwards has come in for criticism from a variety of sources. In a letter to The Times, headmaster Paul Mitchell writes that a properly rounded programme is the only way to guarantee open career options while in The Independent comedian Josie Long says that “Nicky Morgan's comments betray an immense, ingrained snobbery”.
This week we: met with IPO Chief Executive John Alty; met with Educational Publisher colleagues from Europe to discuss how to better engage with the European Institutions on matters of concern to educational publishing; attended the annual meeting between The PA and the Association of Authors’ Agents; caught up with colleagues across the creative industries at a meeting of the Alliance for Intellectual Property.
Next week we will be: attending the BIC AGM; meeting with Shadow Education Minister Kevin Brennan; holding our Education Conference which will be addressed by Minister for School Reform Nick Gibb.