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PA's PA 20th June

PA's PA 20th June

This has been the week of, what has been dubbed, Cameron’s ‘Ker-ching’ summit.  With the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, in town much has been made of the trade potential between the two countries.  While IP issues have not been mentioned publically, a joint statement was issued which, amongst other matters, included the following clause:  “Both sides agree on the importance of effective intellectual property (IP) protection to stimulate innovation and economic development. Both sides will work together to help British companies protect IP in China and Chinese companies protect IP in the UK. Both sides welcome cooperation activities between relevant agencies and agree to further exchanges on issues of mutual interest in terms of global IP frameworks.”  

After surviving a public spat with the Home Secretary last week, Michael Gove, courtesy of his former adviser, this week found himself in the middle of another one.  Dominic Cummings used an interview in The Times (£) to launch a damming attack on David Cameron, claiming he lacked “the slightest sense of purpose” and was a “sphinx without a riddle”.  The interview, coming from someone who is so close to the Education Secretary and has been instrumental to many of his reforms,  raised questions again about Gove’s long term commitment to GCSE’s.  Labour MPs sought to embarrass Gove by tabling questions on when Cummings had last visited the Department and whether he still retained his security pass.  Gove, however, brushed these off with ease. 

In an article in The Times (£) on Thursday, Education Minister Liz Truss encouraged schools to be return to teaching with textbooks rather than handing out worksheets.  According to Truss, the “humble textbook” was a “powerful” and “beautiful” idea that offered understanding and knowledge.  This view was echoed by the Chief Inspector of Schools Michael Wilshaw who called for a return to teaching with textbooks.

The Education Select Committee has published its report into underachievement in education by while working class children.  The Committee found that poor white British boys and girls are educationally underperforming, but that good schools and teachers can make a huge difference to the academic achievement of children eligible for free school meals, doubling their chance of success at GCSE. 

Lib Dems pledge to protect education spending

Continuing their education announcements of last week, the Liberal Democrats announced that they will fight the next general election with a pledge to protect the education budget from “cradle to college”. Clegg pledged an extra £10bn of education spending on top of commitments delivered already in this Parliament; ring-fencing the 15 hours of free education provision for three- and four-year olds, the new early years pupil premium, the new free education entitlement for two-year-olds from the poorest 40% of households and the Department for Education budget for 16- to 19-year-olds.

Joint meeting of All Party IP Group and Digital Policy Alliance
The All Party IP Group and the Digital Policy Alliance held a joint meeting on how the UK and EU’s IP framework can help secure the future growth of the tech and IP rich industries.  Chaired by John Whittingdale MP, speakers included Richard Mollet, The Publishers Association, Per Strömbäck, Netopia, Hamish Sandison, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, and Stephen Pattison, ARM Holdings.

Westminster Media Forum on Future of Copyright Policy
The great and the good gathered to discuss the future direction of copyright policy in the UK and across the EU.  Speakers included Maria Martin-Prat, Head of Copyright at the European Commission, Nick Munn from the Intellectual Property Office and Dominic Young, Chief Executive of the Copyright Hub.  Both Martin-Prat and Munn played their cards very close to their chests – Martin-Prat, in particular, was careful not to give anything away as to what might be in the upcoming Commission’s White Paper (due next month).  Munn found a fence and sat on it!  The two panel discussions provided some interesting interaction.  Martin Kretschmer’s assertion that as only 3% of books published 50 years were commercially available copyright was, therefore, making creative works ‘disappear’ was challenged by The Register’s Andrew Orlowski who asked, given Kretschmer’s stated belief in empirical research, what evidence there was that showed that people actually wanted access to these works.  The answer?  None.  The second panel saw The PA’s own Richard Mollet challenge Open Rights Group Executive Directive Jim Killock over his obsession with a perceived lack of transparency with the s97a website blocking orders issued by the High Court.  In this, Richard was ably assisted by Sir Robin Jacob – or to give him his former title High Court and Court of Appeal Lord Justice Jacob – who also took Killock to task over his interpretation of parody law.  

Copyright Hub
Work continues at the Copyright Hub on the foundations of a technological platform which will eventually be able to link any piece of content with its rights holder – the Hub’s goal remaining “one-click” permissions, with all the complexity that entails being hidden from users whenever possible.  The last few months have seen a huge ramp-up in the team at the Connected Digital Economy Catapult – a group of technical experts working with the Hub to build its complex and highly innovation platform with capability added to the Hub team itself.   The Hub remains clear that its success depends on engagement with, and the assistance of, industry and has repeated its call for any help, practical and financial, as its work progresses.  An event is planned for the afternoon of 9th July to update friends and supporters and provide a demonstration of some of the technical developments. to reserve a place. 

Open Access

Word has reached us that both the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) have announced new open access policies.  Both funders’ policies require that all papers resulting from funded projects must be deposited in online repositories and made publically accessible within 12 months of publication. 

Budget problems at Sixth Form Colleges
new study by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association has claimed that sixth form colleges are under threat with several facing closure this year because of deep cuts to their budgets. Its survey of England's 93 sixth form colleges reveals that more than one in three colleges have already had to axe their language courses - while more than one in five have scrapped courses in the Stem science and maths subjects. The survey also reveals that 68% of sixth form colleges had to axe courses this year, while 96% have had to cut staff. In addition, 69% have seen class sizes increase, while 71% have been forced to axe extra-curricular provision such as sport and drama. The sixth form colleges are facing cuts because the Coalition Government's pledge to retain education spending only covers five- to 16-year-olds. Unlike schools with attached sixth forms, standalone sixth form colleges also have to pay VAT - to the tune of £335,000 a year.

National Institute of Adult Continuing Education launches 2015 manifesto

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, NIACE chief executive David Hughes outlined the group’s 2015 General Election manifesto.  The Manifesto calls for an independent review into the UK’s long-term skills needs and funding issues, and to ensure that those who did not do well in education in early life do not shy away from the learning opportunities presented to them as adults.

Where we’ve been and where we’re going

This week The PA addressed the joint meeting of the All Party Intellectual Property Group and the Digital Policy Alliance, participated in the Westminster Media Forum’s seminar on the Future of Copyright Policy, attended a meeting of the newly formed Creative Industries Federation, and was represented at the EU-China IP Dialogue in Beijing.  Next week sees a (unplanned) Lib Dem theme with us attending in the Liberal Democrat’s creative industry roundtable with Business Secretary Vince Cable, participating in the Alliance for IP’s briefing of the Lib Dem’s frontbench and meeting Matt Sanders, Creative Industries and Education adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister.