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PA's PA 24th January

PA's PA 24th January

Parliamentary News

The IP Bill received its 2nd Reading this week, the transcript of which can be read here.  The IP Bill is largely focused on design rights, but includes a clause on the reporting duties of the IPO and has scope to include a clause on criminal penalties for online infringement.  Whilst some positive points were made (based on the Alliance for IP’s sterling briefing work), Helen Goodman took a slightly different line to some of her colleagues and argued in favour of a text mining exception and contract override.  Iain Wright did a great job (as usual) talking about the importance of a strong IP regime to the creative industries, the manufacturing sector and the UK economy, including to publishing:

“The UK publishing sector is bigger than our pharmaceutical industry and reaches across all aspects of our economic life. The book market in the UK is the fifth largest in the world and is growing. Every year, 120,000 new book titles are published, including academic journals, titles that tie in with TV or film rights, novels and biographies.”

John Leech raised the point about the discrepancy between penalties for online versus offline infringement.  He also said that Google and other platforms such as ebay should take greater responsibility for protecting copyright, as did others including Gerry Sutcliffe, with Pete Wishart referring to Cameron’s launch of the Hargreaves Review as “the Googlesbury address” (which we found rather amusing).  A number of MPs also raised continued concerns about the IPO and the place of IP policy in Government (BIS vs. DCMS), questioning whether an IP champion is still needed.  The Bill now moves to committee stage, which will commence on 28th January.  

And the Consumer Rights Bill was introduced to Parliament this week, with 2nd Reading to take place on 28th January.  We will be meeting with BIS officials in the coming weeks to go through the Bill (in particular the section on digital rights).


Pete Wishart used the IP Bill debate (see above) to press home some important points about the SIs that will be used to introduce copyright exceptions, specifically that they be unbundled and that there is time for full debate.  Whilst there is no further news on that score – although David Willets did reply that the “we understand the need for individual consideration; the regulations will not be completely bundled up” - a meeting with the IPO last week did provide some glimmer of hope; there was a clear indication that some of the wording in the education SI has been tightened, and that the IPO lawyers have listened to our concerns about managed access and contract override, particularly in the context of the text and data mining SI.  It is still unlikely we’ll get to see any drafts before they are laid before the House, but perhaps there is room for slightly greater optimism this week than last.

Oh – and some publishers are taking legal action against Hotfile.


It was the BETT conference this week, with Michael Gove giving a keynote address about how technology and computing are changing education (he should come and see some of our Showcasing Innovation showcases) and what the Government has done to facilitate this (Computer Science on the National Curriculum for one thing).  There was also a section on MOOCs and their impact on how schools and universities might operate, and the role MOOCs might play in the accountability system for 16-19 year olds.

Open Access

News from the Netherlands this week, as the Dutch Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science set out his views on Open Access.  With unfortunate language about “exorbitant fees” to gain access and the need for a speedy transition to OA to avoid universities having to pay for both APCs and subscriptions, as well as language that at times reduces the role of the publisher to one of arranging peer review, distributing the Version of Record, and acquiring part of the copyright, the Dutch Minister makes clear his preference for Gold OA and seeks a 10 years transition deadline.  As a step towards this, he wants to see at least 60% of articles being made available in OA journals (including hybrid) in five years time.  This policy is set to cover both articles and books.  The universities and Dutch research organisations are asked to prioritise Gold and think about how funding is allocated accordingly.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Gold route to OA is also described as being one in which the author retains full copyright in a work (which we were surprised to read), the statement sets out that such a transition will only be possible if all stakeholders collaborate.  The Minister will also seek to work with countries such as the UK and Germany as a priority measure to help the switch to Gold OA, followed by the number 2 priority: research organisations and major scientific publishers “renegotiate[ing] the former’s subscription to journals” with publishers needing to “step up” and make a crucial contribution to the transition, including offsetting of APCs against subscriptions and the avoidance of “double payment.”  A roundtable between research organisations and publishing houses is promised shortly…as is legislation for mandatory OA publication if progress is not swift enough.


The BBC has launched its digital, interactive iWonder guides, starting with WW1.


Along with Labour’s announcement this week that JSA claimants who can't read or write will have to take a test and lessons within 6 weeks, the BIS Select Committee has announced this inquiry into adult literacy.


The Government has published this report on its public library activities during 2012/13, in which The PA’s Digital Skills Sharing project gets a mention.  But did someone say library closures?

Who we’ve met and forthcoming meetings:

This week we:  met with Tracey Crouch MP; met with Paul Farrelly MP; met with Creative Access; met with the Institute of Ideas; attended the Creative Industries Council subgroup meeting on IP; attended BETT.

Next week we are: climbing Kilimanjaro, and The PA’s PA will be guest edited by Richard Mollet.

Articles of Interest

Mass digitisation gets underway in Norway.