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PA's PA 4th April

PA's PA 4th April

Welcome to this week’s PA PA; a week in which the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition called each other a dunce and a muppet and Nick Clegg was called a liar by Nigel Farage.  So, the political invective was not exactly at Churchillian levels, but hopefully some of the foregoing will show British politics in a healthier light...


Like us, you may have spent the week poring over the Modernising Copyright Statutory Instruments, draft Explanatory Notes, and Government response to the Technical Review, all as reported last week, but reproduced for convenience and further enjoyment here.  With our colleagues at the Alliance for Intellectual Property and the British Copyright Council (BCC) we have been engaged in two main tasks.  The first of which is persuading the House of Commons Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) to delay its signing off on the SIs.  The Government had hoped that its pre-scrutiny conversation with the Parliamentary Committee would have enabled it to rubber stamp the published SIs.  However, the BCC and UK Music wrote to the JCSI pointing out that the IPO had not addressed the legal concerns around the drafting (with apologies for the excess of acronyms).  It seems the JCSI agrees and has replied saying that the batch of Copyright SIs be considered more fully and brought back to the JCSI meeting on 7 May, “not least because of the number of technical representations received in the last couple of days.” So the case, as they say, continues.

The second strand is to persuade IPO that the current draft of Explanatory Notes (ENs) are riddled with ambiguities and need to be redrafted.  Contrary to the surprisingly erroneous views of some in the IPO, these ENs do have legal standing and indeed IPO has spent the last couple of months telling rightsholders that any concerns with the SIs will be addressed by the Notes.  It is therefore a bit disappointing to see that they currently raise more questions than answers.  Officials are – perhaps naturally – resistant to redrafting, but with the JCSI now taking an extra month, perhaps they will reconsider.   With the Alliance, we are compiling a note of where we think the ENs need to be tightened up, and this will be circulated next week.

The PA will also be producing a definitive guide to the SIs, outlining exactly in which ways the Copyright Act has changed and what it may mean for publishers. This will be available from early May.

And before leaving the subject of copyright, IP Minister Viscount Younger addressed the CILIP conference this week. His published speech can be readhere.  It focuses on the main reforms of interest to the librarian community (which seems fair enough given the occasion) archiving, preservation and orphan works.

Open Access

Following a consultation exercise running from July to October last year HEFCE has (finally) published its policy on Open Access in the post 2014 Research Excellence Framework (“if you’re not OA, you’re not coming in”).  There was little substantively different from the draft, other than an unhelpful change away from the possibility for works to be potentially accessible through an institutional repository, to the stipulation they must be in the repository.  Despite being a publicly funded body, the HEFCE policy does not so much support government policy (which is to have a preference for Gold Open Access), so much as tolerate it.  Likewise embargo periods are almost begrudgingly acknowledged, but at least are in line with the Finch/Government/RCUK stipulations and are said to begin at the point of publication.  The full policy can be read here .

Higher Education

This week HEFCE also published an interesting report which showed a decline in global demand for UK higher education.  Apparently England has experienced its first dip in international student entrants to HE courses in nearly three decades.  Previous years’ double-digit growth has been replaced by a 1% overall fall, with EU applicants falling by a quarter.  However, non-UK entrants on postgraduate masters increased to 74%; and the proportion of Chinese students (23%) on such courses was only marginally lower than those from the UK (26%).  More information and the full report can be readhere.

News from Europe

MEPs – in one of the last moves of the current Parliament – have voted for stronger net neutrality after the first reading of the “telecoms package” legislation.  They want internet access providers to be barred from blocking or slowing down selected services for economic or other reasons.  However, the legislation recognises that blocking should be carried out if in response to a Court Order, and thus the “section 97a” site-blocking orders which UK rightsholders are using to good effect against infringing sites will not be affected.   The legislation can be picked up by the incoming Parliament, but in any event will be subject to co-decision scrutiny by the Council of Ministers.   Further news on this is here.

Political News

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was out and about this week, speaking to the British Chambers of Commerce.  He pledged a future Labour government to a number of things, including cutting business rates, reforming the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, and an independent infrastructure commission (which may be of interest if it talks about broadband as well as roads and bridges!)..  The full text can be read here  – and we do monitor the click-throughs, by the way.

Creative Industry News

UKIE – the computer games trade association – have welcomed the European Commission’s approval of the UK Treasury’s granting of a games production tax relief to the sector.  (Shameless plug: UKIE will have a stand at LBF and their CEO Jo Twist is appearing on our Showcasing Innovation panel).  Jo has commented that the relief is needed due to the “clear market failure for the production of games with a British and European flavour” – read more at this link

Who we’ve met and forthcoming meetings:

Next week is the London Book Fair (as if you didn’t know), we will be meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP (and their Korean counterparts) and listening to Shira Perlmutter Chief Policy Officer at the US Patent and Trademark Officer.  Also, if you are in the building, please come along to The PA sessions on Showcasing Innovation (Tues 1430), the Future of Academic Publishing (Wed at 10am) and the Changing Face of Publishing (Wed at 1130) and Open Access and Copyright (Wed at 1430)

And Finally... of big data (I know you are out there) may be interested in this piece in the FT this week, casting a sceptical eye over the claims of some of the earlier BD enthusiasts.  Look out for the wonderfully anglo-saxon assessment from the Cambridge professor.