Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the number of people who voted in favour of the BBC retaining the services of a renowned right-wing presenter far exceeded the membership of the three main political parties combined.
Creative Industries Council
In its penultimate meeting before the Election (there is a more formal gathering later this month) the CIC held a reception in the House of Commons to note (celebrate would be too strong a word) the successes of the strategy launched last summer. Amongst these are the development of the new www.hiive.co.uk platform by Creative Skillset to promote careers in the creative industries, the anti-piracy activity with The City of London Police and successful export drives through the GREAT Campaign (although it would be true, if slightly churlish, to say that these activities pre-date the CIC strategy). Culture Secretary Sajid Javid gave a rousing speech on the important economic contribution that music, film, publishing and games made to the UK; whilst Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant ("channelling his inner Harriet") gave an equally rousing call for more to be done to promote libraries and literacy. Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary who co-chairs the Council recognised its importance in the government's approach to the sector. All in all it seems likely that whoever wins power in May and in whatever combination, that the CIC will remain in place. Labour seems likely to give it a greater regional emphasis to reflect the strength of creative business across the UK.
The PA attended the second of the IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe's Copyright Roundtables aimed at advising the Government on its policy towards the European Commission's Digital Single Market agenda. As ever rightsholders gave very clear explanations as to the flexibility inherent in the various current licensing arrangements and pointed out the clear risks of the EU adopting a single territory approach. Portability is the key to addressing consumer concerns, but even here a careful approach has to be adopted when considering what aspects of a service should be portable, for how long, and with what safeguards. We also stressed that the mere citing of a problem with copyright did not, in of itself, constitute evidence of failure still less the need for reform. The Minister herself stressed the need for evidence to underpin proposals for change (the Government's position all along notwithstanding the Number 10 glitch as reported here in January) and that impact assessment would be vital in this regard. The level of engagement with the Minister is highly encouraging but again we have to look to May and the likelihood of starting all over again with a new one.
UK Government and the Digital Single Market
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey has responded to a series of PQs from Shadow Business Minister Iain Wright on the Government's policy paper, UK vision for EU's digital economy. In response to being asked which (a) film, (b) television, (c) music and (d) publishing companies his Department consulted on the contents of the paper before it was published, Vaizey responded that the Government engages with, and will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders – a classic case of ‘ducking of the question’? Addressing specifically a question regarding accessing digital media content across EU borders, the Minister reiterated that the Government believes that the digital single market should make it easier for people to access and use content on fair and reasonable terms across borders. Reassuringly, the need for evidence was referenced as was the fact that we must ensure we have a copyright framework that supports economic growth, rewards creativity and protects creators – along with responding to consumer needs.
Following the briefing we prepared and sent to MEPs on the Reda Report, The PA met with Vicky Ford MEP’s team (Vicky Ford being the Chair of the European Parliament’s influential Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection). Vicky remains supportive of the creative industries and is tabling amendments to her Committee’s draft opinion on the Reda Report which will be submitted to the Legal Affairs Committee. Apparently over 500 amendments have been tabled to the report itself!
BBC Learning Industry Day
The BBC Learning held one its bi-annual Industry Day’s – an opportunity for education professionals and stakeholders to hear about past and future activities of the organisation. Much had already being reproted at the previous Industry Day back in November, such as the theme for 2015 being ‘Make it Digital’, the Ten Pieces programme to introduce classical music into primary schools and their plans to bring all formal learning under one brand (Bitesize). The BBC is currently commissioning significant amounts of curriculum related content, with primary content to follow, which is very much aimed at the learner not the teacher. On the fringes of the meeting contact we made contact with Ian Fordham from The Education Foundation which has been commissioned by the Mayor of London to map the status of digital learning across London. A meeting is being arranged with EPC members to demonstrate the role of publishers in delivering digital learning.
We met this week with the new(ish) BIS policy lead for Open Access, Tim Higginson. This was an opportunity to update Tim on the progress being made in delivering the Finch recommendations and to hear whether the Minister has any concerns. The good news was that there didn’t appear to be any burning issues that need to be addressed – off-setting was raised, but Tim appeared to understand the need to keep policy flexible and allow publishers to approach this on an individual basis. Open Access was discussed at a recent meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council and a ‘non-paper’ (them again!) has been drafted in collaboration with the Dutch. Interestingly, Tim had been surprised to realise the importance of publishing as a growth sector for the UK. Hopefully this will stand us in good stead.
A quieter week than we have seen previously on the education policy front apart from Nicky Morgan’s continuing promotion of a “curriculum for life”. Picking up on themes first communicated at last Autumn’s Conservative Party Conference, the idea is to instil character and “emotional resilience”. Her speech this week focused on the internet age and charged schools with doing more to help pupils manage their lives and stay safe. The Secretary of State has asked officials to draw up new areas to be covered in PSHE lessons at primary and secondary schools. She also revealed the Government would "establish a new charter mark for schools" for sex education and PSHE teaching, saying that that the modern world could be particularly overwhelming for young people and more schools needed to put "high-quality PSHE at the heart of their curriculum". Her speech was reported in The Telegraph here.
The Government’s short consultation on the draft order to bring into force the transitional provisions for the repeal of Section 52 of the CDPA 1988 has ended. While no substantive comments were received from stakeholders, the Government made some minor technical changes to improve the drafting of the Order which can be found here. This order has now been made and will come into force on 6 April 2020. The IPO will now draft guidance to accompany this change and The PA has arranged a meeting with officials and publishers to ensure the guidance reflects our issues of concern. This meeting will take place at The PA on Wednesday 25th March at 10am. If you would like to attend, please contact Susie Winter.
If you see John Whittingdale, ask him about the time his Select Committee visited Google…..
This week we have:
Attended the inaugural meeting of the GREAT campaign advisory board, met Tim Higginson, the new Open Access adviser in BIS, attended a dinner to mark John Whittingdale’s chairmanship of the Culture Select Committee, met with MEPs and other stakeholders in Brussels to discuss responses to the Reda Report, attended a reception in parliament for the Creative Industries, met with communication leads from the Read On Get On campaign and attended the BBC Learning stakeholder day. We also spoke at The Booksellers’ Academic, Professional and Specialist Booksellers Annual Conference and met with Lord Clement-Jones, Lib Dem Creative Industries spokesman.
Next week we will be:
Saying goodbye to Booktrust Chair Viv Bird at her retirement party, discussing current policy issues with creative industries colleagues at the Alliance for IP Board meeting, the Creative Industries Council IP Sub Group, and the British Copyright Councils, Copyright and Technology Working Group, meeting with the Society of Authors, attending the meeting of the Joint Committee on Legal Deposit, meeting with enforcement colleagues and stakeholders at the IP Crime Group, hosting a meeting of the Publishers Green Network, and meeting with JISC and partners on open access.