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PA's PA 25th July

PA's PA 25th July

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA

A relatively quiet week as we found ourselves in a post reshuffle and pre recess lull…

Reshuffle fall out

Proving his credentials as a controversial figure, the papers over the weekend and into this week have remained full of comment, from both sides, on Michael Gove and his sacking move to the role of Chief Whip(although it could just be because the reshuffle produced nothing else really of note – Ed). Tom Clark in The Guardian charts Gove’s transition from the embodiment of compassionate conservatism to the most divisive figure in the Cabinet, concluding that it was for this reason he had to go, while Charles Moore in the Telegraph comments that if Gove was sacked because of his unpopularity rating, then so should George Osborne.  Perhaps unsurprisingly strong support for Gove was found in The Sun and in the letters pages of the Daily Mail.  His sacking has also forced comedian Jack Whitehall to rewrite the third series of his comedy Bad Education as the sitcom had been set to feature numerous jokes about the former education secretary.  The new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan used an interview in The Sunday Times (£) to pledge to carry on where Gove left off.  She rejected claims that her appointment was a precursor to a change in policy direction saying “there will certainly be no soft-peddling on reforms”.   This change in style, however, seems to having the desired effect with The Telegraph reporting that the Conservatives ratings on education, post reshuffle, have climbed to their highest level for two and half years.  Read The PA’s blog for further insight into the reshuffle. 


As anticipated in last week’s PA’s PA, the Commission failed to discuss the proposed copyright white paper.  While it will be retabled for September’s meeting it will only be discussed if a compromise has been reached.  Given this is unlikely (not only do the opposing camps remain far apart on key issues of principle but, more practically, everyone has now disappeared for August!) it is increasingly looking like there will be no white paper.  Good, as no white paper is better than a bad white paper? Bad, as who knows what mischief the new Commission and commissioners may dream up in its place?  Watch this space.  A summary of responses has been published which can be found here . 58% of responses were from users and individuals who reported problems when trying to access online services in another European country accessing.  Predictably, the nuisances posed by digital rights management were highlighted with many in this group calling for a single European copyright title would do away with territorial restrictions and allow for content to be freely accessed, purchased and transferred across the entire EU market.  Interestingly only 11 Member States submitted comments (the UK being one of them). 

EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, has been presented with its Open Access Advocacy Award for 2014 by open access publisher, BioMed Central.  According to BioMed Central, Kroes has “brought the open access agenda to the forefront of the spirited discussion on the future of science and research in Europe”. 

Dutch court refuses interim injunction against digital ebook resale site

Word has reached us on a worrying ruling in the Netherlands regarding a site called Tom Kabinet which sells ‘used’ e-books.  The Judgerefused an application from Dutch publishers association, NUV, for an interim injunction, believing (mistakenly in our view) that the ruling in the UsedSoft case, which permitted the resale of software licences, makes the situation regarding the resale of digital content unclear.  We say mistakenly as many, including a German Court of First Instance and Court of Appeal, agree that UsedSoft only applies to software and the Software Directive and is not a ruling that can be translated into copyright and creative content (see IPKat posting).   We will keep in dialogue with our Dutch colleagues as they explore next steps. 

Reading for Pleasure and literacy

The PA’s first Reading for Pleasure publisher roadshow took place at Pan Macmillan’s offices.   The various literacy charities were able to ‘pitch’ direct to a packed room of staff from across the company.  In return, PM staff were invited to pledge support and help the charities in their efforts to increase levels of literacy and encourage reading for pleasure.  The PA looks forward to taking the roadshow to other publishing houses in the autumn. 

The Daily Mail reports on research from the University of Edinburgh which shows that children who do better in reading tests at an early age consistently outscore their peers in vocabulary and pattern recognition later on.  The study used identical twins and found that the twin who was a stronger reader at seven tended to have higher scores in both verbal and non-verbal tests up to 16. 

BFI stats release

The bfi’s (British Film Industry) latest Statistics Yearbook makes interesting reading for the publishing industry.  Its research shows that of the top 20 grossing films worldwide, 40%, were based on British novels, while of the top 20 British grossing films 18 were based on novels, including works by and inspired by Ian Fleming, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling.


The PA attended a meeting of the IP Crime Group where discussion focused on the launch of Creative Content UK, the work of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and the departure of Lord Younger.  OHIM’s country guides to help rights holders understand IP protection and enforcement in Brazil, China, India, Russia and Turkey.  Attendees were also reminded about the UK-China Symposium taking place in Beijing this September. 

Education and teaching

According to the Independent, plans to install David Ross, founder of Carphone Warehouse and Tory Party donor, as the new chairman of Ofsted have failed.  The paper reports that Ross has not made the final shortlist.  The new Secretary of State will now interview the remaining three names, who are understood not to have any links with political parties.  

Labour has backed the Lib Dem proposal for free school meals for all primary school people, prompting The Times (£) to ponder whether this increases the likelihood of a coalition between the two parties in the event of a second hung parliament. 

According to research conducted by Ocado Technology 73% of primary school teachers feel they are underprepared to teach coding, six weeks before a new computing curriculum is introduced. The teachers said they lacked key resources and training.

The Guardian reports that sixth-formers are set to study topics such as social media, the culture of selfies, online safety and privacy as part of a new A-level sociology course drawn up by OCR. “Students will analyse how societies manage the positive and negative impacts of, for example, freedom of information, privacy, online safety, equality of access to technology and gender stereotyping,” the exam board said.

And finally….Bookseller Editor Philip Jones has tweeted about an interesting take on the issue of books to prisons which has appeared in this week’s edition of the Bookseller.  This surely isn’t a genuine government memo…?

This week we have: attended meetings of the IP Crime Group and the British Copyright Council; met with Gavin Copeland, the new BIS official in charge of open access and Clare Lehane, on secondment from Elsevier to the Creative Industries Council; met with Blinkbox Books; met with Creative Content UK (the new name for VCAP – see last week’s PA’s PA); and attended the first Reading for Pleasure publisher roadshow.

Next week we will be: meeting with the Intellectual Property Office; reconvening the Kettners Educational Publishers Lunch Club with guest speaker Sarah Maughan, Research Department Director. National Foundation for Educational Research. 

Note: The House of Commons is now in recess until 1st September.