Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the Prime Minister took forward the negotiations on reforming the EU ahead of the UK referendum, and in which Douglas Carswell MP began discussions about a new leader for UKIP.
BIS Select Committee
The PA was well represented at the Business Select Committee’s oral evidence session on the digital economy with both its Director of Policy and its Chief Executive (wearing his Chair of the Alliance for IP hat) invited to give evidence. Susie was up first, giving evidence alongside UK Music and the News Media Association on how UK publishers have been embracing the opportunities presented by digital technology. Responding to questions on the challenges facing the industry, Susie raised the ongoing frustration with the European Commission’s drive to reform copyright in the absence of any evidence of the need to. She also pointed to the international strength of the UK publishing industry and the need for the UK Government to stand up for British companies in its negotiations in Brussels (an audible “Amen to that” was heard from one of the Committee members at this!). Richard, giving evidence with Dominic Young of the Copyright Hub, stressed how the current IP framework is flexible and technologically neutral but needs to be enforced. The issue of value being leeched away by online platforms was of particular interest to the Committee and Richard repeated the points made by the earlier panellists on the need for clarity from the Commission over its digital single market proposals – the example being given of the use in last week’s communication of ‘public interest research organisation’ in relation to text and data mining. Up last was the IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, and John Alty, Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office, who provided no new insights . The Minister repeated her desire to see UK businesses and consumers benefiting from a digital single market, drawing on her experience of the single market from her time in business. There was reassurance to be found in her comment that she is inherently wary of regulation, particularly in fast moving areas, but time will tell whether the Government’s actions match the rhetoric. For those who missed it, you can watch it again here. http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/78cab1fb-8099-4abc-b85e-d5b5db921783
The new Select Committees are continuing to add to their (and our) workload. The Science & Technology Select Committee has launched a new inquiry into the digital skills gap. This inquiry will go further than the Lord Select Committee on Digital Skills and examine the extent of the digital divide and digital exclusion, the impact on the economy and whether government initiatives are sufficient. The terms of reference can be found here. The deadline is tight (31st December – although a slight extension has been secured until 7th January) and The PA is preparing a short submission. We will also be meeting with the Committee’s chair, Nicola Blackwood, in January.
A cross-party group of MEPs have come together to sign a letter calling on the Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, to oppose calls by press publishers for an ancillary right under the Info Soc Directive. The letter states: “The European Parliament has on many occasions positioned itself against the introduction of such an ancillary copyright. We urge the Commission to remain focused on a reform of copyright rules that strengthens the European Digital Single Market, fosters creativity and research while being aware of the dangers of undermining the foundations of one of the greatest revolutions in Information Technology”. It goes on to call on the Commission to take into account the Parliament’s rejection of the notion of ancillary copyright”. This is particularly noteworthy as it is bringing together unlikely bed-fellows in the shape of Julia Reda and Vicky Ford. FEP is monitoring developments.
The Guardian reports on CILIP’s (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) legal challenge against the government over its “failure to carry out their legal duty to the public” and keep branches open. It is urging the Government to abide by the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, which states that the public has a statutory right to a quality public library service, in the wake of cuts to hundreds of library services across the country. This mirrors a recommendation from our own manifesto which called on a parliamentary commission to be established which would define fully the general duty as set out in the1964 Act, to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons” and to consider amending the primary legislation if necessary.
This week we have:
Given evidence to the Business Select Committee as part of their inquiry into the Digital Economy; continued disucssions with Creative Skillset on the apprenticeship levy; met with the Society of Authors and the Association of Authors Agents; caught up with the IPO’s Director of Copyright and discussed Section 52 and the Digital Single Market communication.
Next week we will be:
Preparing our response to the Government’s White Paper on Teaching Excellence Framework; gathering our thoughts for 2016 while running off vast quantities of food.
Happy Christmas everyone. PA’s PA will return in the New Year!