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PA's PA 18th September

PA's PA 18th September

Welcome to this week’s (packed) PA’s PA in a week in which Jeremy Corbyn found himself having to get use to never being far from the front page. 

Digital Single Market update

·         Education Exception

The PA continues in its efforts to explain to the Commission and members of the European Parliament the potential impact of copyright reform to the publishing industry.  Via meetings with Commission we have been reassured that, in relation to reforms to the education exception, they are still firmly in evidence gathering / listening mode and appreciate, indeed are grateful for, the opportunity to hear more about how the current exception operates in the UK (and other member states).  We will remain closely engaged with the Commission as they develop their thinking in this area.   

·         Text and Data Mining

The PA, in conjunction with ALPSP and STM, has held a series of briefings for MEPs, their researchers and Commission officials to demonstrate a couple of the publisher-supported solutions (PLS Clear TDM and CrossRef) out there which help researchers undertake text and data mining.  These have been well-received with a key message being that an exception will not address the actual needs of researchers – namely knowing who to contact, what information to provide and enabling them to contact multiple publishers with the same research request.  More such events are to be planned.   

·         Online platforms

The Commission’s upcoming consultation on platform companies and online intermediaries has been leaked by the Politico Pro website.  The lengthy questionnaire also takes in cloud computing and the ‘collaborative economy’ (!).  While much is welcomed and points to an acknowledgment by the Commission of the need to look at the E-Commerce Directive’s safe harbour provisions and temper the abuse of market power being exerted by a number of platforms, hidden deep in the document are a couple of questions relating to access to data held by private companies.  Even though it remains our understanding that any reforms to text and data mining will be consulted on separately, these questions appear to address this precise issue.  We will be examining and responding.    

UK Government and DSM

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale referenced the Digital Single Market in his speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention this week.  He cautioned against “overly zealous regulation in Brussels” and stressed the need to find a balanced solution to cross-border access – one which would retain investment and ensure fair payment for creators while allowing people to access their legally purchased / subscribed content abroad.  He also noted the need for any changes to copyright law to be accompanied by a strong enforcement regime.   

Consultations, Consultations!

Online platforms – House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee

Following the publication of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy and its inclusion of concerns relating to online platforms (see above!), the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee has launched an inquiry into online platforms in the EU Digital Single Market to enable them to feed into this debate.   The inquiry will seek evidence about the benefits and problems that online platforms create for consumers and businesses, and ask if online platforms are sufficiently transparent about how they work. The inquiry will also consider issues such as data use, market dominance, and relations between platforms and their suppliers, including SMEs.  Topics the Committee will explore include how should online platforms be defined, do they cause problems, and are current competition law tools effective. The deadline for written submissions, which The PA will be making, is Friday 16 th October 2015. 

Impact of EU membership on science and research – House of Lords Science and Technology Committee

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry into the Relationship between EU Membership and the Effectiveness of Science, Research and Innovation in the UK.   According to the Committee, the UK's membership of the EU has wide ranging influence on the vitality of UK science, research and innovation and understanding this influence is complex and multifaceted; its exact nature is uncatalogued in a number of key areas.  The purpose of this inquiry aims to try and understand and characterise these interactions with particular regard to four major themes; funding, collaboration, regulation and scientific advice.  Areas on which the Committee are interested in hearing include the scale of the financial contribution from the EU to UK science and research, and vice versa, which EU regulatory mechanisms greatly affect the science and research community in the UK, and how is private investment in UK science and research influenced by EU membership? The deadline for written submissions, which again The PA will be making, is Friday 20 th November.   

Dealing with the (New) Labour Leadership

It is ironic that the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party is causing a more dramatic change in UK politics than the General Election result in May.  Four months ago, the ramifications of the result were relatively minor as the Lib Dems were ushered out of government and a great many Ministerial faces remained in post.  Corbyn’s win is the polar opposite of that business-as-usual outcome.  As is already apparent, there is a major divergence in terms of personnel, style and substance from all that has gone before.  As far as publishing’s issues are concerned the key people will be Angela Eagle as Shadow BIS Secretary, Michael Dugher shadowing DCMS and Lucy Powell in the shadow Education brief.  Ms Eagle’s views on intellectual property, if they exist, are unknown to us.  However we can take a great deal of comfort from the fact that the Trade Union Congress – driven by the Musicians’ Union, Equity and BECTU - has in recent years passed motions in support of strong copyright.  The PA hosted a seminar with Unite at London Book Fair this year and its officers are as passionate as we are about the importance of tackling IP infringement in order to support members’ jobs.  We will continue to develop these, now even more, important links.  Ms Eagle’s brief also covers universities and with Jo Johnson gearing up for a major statement on funding in the Autumn, there will be much to ponder in terms of the potential impact of this debate on the wider discussion on open access.  We are yet to see who from the Parliamentary Labour Party will take up the junior Shadow briefs looking at individual elements of the BIS brief. 

Michael Dugher – a former adviser to Geoff Hoon and a key member of the Brown No 10 team – is a huge supporter of the creative industries, not least through his strong passion for The Beatles and music generally.  He is likely to be more focused on challenging his opposite number on the BBC Charter Renewal, but he is a proponent of robust copyright.  Another key figure is the newly elected Deputy Leader, Tom Watson.  In the debates over the Digital Economy Act in 2010, Mr Watson posed important challenges to the creative sector over attempts to get ISPs to take on more responsibility for copyright infringement and wasn’t always perceived as supportive.  That said, he too is a known huge fan of British music and popular culture.  Nor can we ignore the new Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. It is obvious he is not a politician instantly sympathetic to the needs of business – especially larger ones - and has a track record of proposing higher taxes on both corporate and personal income. As Labour’s economic policy develops we can expect to take some flak from this quarter.  Elsewhere around the Shadow Cabinet table, Chris Bryant (Commons Leader), Jon Ashworth (Without Portfolio) and Gloria De Piero (Young People) are among those with whom we can hope to find a sympathetic ear on creative industries issues. 

Meanwhile, we should not lose sight of the non-shadow Labour MPs.  Iain Wright (whose move to Chair the Business Select Committee looks like a far-sighted step of genius in the light of other MPs’ anguishing over whether to serve under Corbyn) is the new Chair of the All-Party Publishing Group, and we hope that Tristram Hunt, having relieved himself of front-bench duties, may also be tempted to engage with publishing issues. 

As for the policies, it is already clear that there will be a great deal of discussion and debate before hard and fast positions emerge.  Issues directly affecting our sector will have to wait in an orderly queue behind the bigger questions of state, such as EU membership, Trident and welfare caps.  It would appear that Shadow Ministers are going to have a great deal of latitude in developing policy commitments – Corbyn is positioning his leadership as consensual and collegiate as opposed to dictatorial and omniscient.  This bodes well in terms of providing the opportunity to present ideas and arguments, but unless well managed by the Leader’s office, it could lead to contradictory stances being adopted across different briefs.  At some point, one feels, someone in the centre does have to take a position. 

In the wider scheme of things, it will be fascinating to see how the (much maligned) opinion polls react to the new-old Labour Party.  Corbyn won 250,000 votes in the leadership race (caveat: Iain Duncan Smith won an equally healthy 166,000 in the Conservative race in 2001) and has since put on 40,000 new party members.  At that rate of voter-galvanisation he could expect to see an increasingly better performance than the low figures which YouGov has already recorded.  The fate of the Party and his leadership depends above all on two key factors: electoral performance in next May’s local, Scottish and London elections; and maintaining unity in the Parliamentary Party.  These factors are inter-related, of course, in that those who would be minded to rebel will wait first to gauge the electorate’s view.  If, despite the almost total media cynicism, Corbyn can unite MPs around a clear anti-Tory, pro-public service, pro-equality platform, yoked to a mobilisation of support and energy in the country at large, he could be around for longer than many imagine. 

Life after Levels

The government’s Commission on Assessment without Levels has finally published its report– nearly seven weeks after its scheduled release date – along with the Government’s response.  Created following to concerns that teachers were struggling to prepare for the abolition of levels, it contains six recommendations for helping schools implement new assessment systems which are: 

1. The appointment of a standing committee on assessment, supported by a panel of experts, who would oversee the next phase of assessment development.  The government agrees that there is a need for experts but fails to say whether or not a committee will be created. Instead it says it “will explore” the best way to draw on expert evidence.

2. Fund one person in each Teaching School alliance to become a specialist leader in education (SLE) specialising in assessment.  The government “acknowledges” that training staff within teaching schools would be an expedient way to “build expertise” and sharing across the sector. Again, it says it will “explore” the best way to increase Teaching School expertise.

3. Create a national bank of assessment questions to be used in formative and summative pupil assessments. The government agreed this is a good idea and so will explore the best way to establish and implement a national bank.

4. Develop a training module for senior school leaders and Ofsted inspectors on the principles and purposes of assessments. The government “strongly endorse” the idea that inspectors and schools leaders should have a “shared understanding” of assessment. They will investigate options for this one.

5. Establish a review group on school data management to advise on ways to reduce assessment-related workload.  This group has already been established. The government will encourage it to build on the work of the Commission.

6. Create an expert group on assessment for pupils working below national curriculum level.  The government announced the creation of this group in July. 

For further reading click here.   

PISA report on digital learning

The OECD has released a new report which examines how students’ access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT) devices has evolved in recent years and shows that schools have yet to take advantage of the potential of classroom technology to tackle the digital divide.  Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection explores how education systems and schools are integrating ICT into students’ learning experiences, discusses differences in access to and use of ICT and highlights the importance of bolstering students’ ability to navigate through digital texts. It also examines the relationship among computer access in schools, computer use in classrooms, and performance in the PISA assessment. As the report makes clear, all students first need to be equipped with basic literacy and numeracy skills so that they can participate fully in the hyper-connected, digitised societies of the 21st century. 

Fair use and DCMA notices

An interesting US case was brought to our attention this week concerning fair use and DMCA notices (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) – the American legislation which gives effect to the notice and take down procedure.  The case was concerned with whether, in its allegation of copyright infringement against Stephanie Lenz following her posting on YouTube of a video of her young children dancing to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy, Universal Music had given proper consideration to whether the use was ‘fair use’ before issuing the take down notice.  It is unlikely that, given the absence of fair use in the UK, this case will have application here, but remains a useful reminder of the challenges rights holders face in proving infringement. The IPKat has a useful summary here.   

Global Innovation Index 2015

WIPO has published the Global Innovation Index 2015, which rank 141 countries on its innovation performance and policies. This year the UK has been ranked in 2nd place overall,  although the detailed data tables present a more nuanced picture of the UK’s position. For example, the UK ranks 19 th on measures such as ‘Government effectiveness’ (covering perception of quality and independence of public and civil service, and quality of policy implementation) and 9 th on regulatory quality (covering perception of government ability to formulate and implement policies and regulation which allow private-sector development).  However, we think this is still something to shout about and agree with IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe when she said:  "The UK has an outstanding tradition in producing the very best in science and research: with less than 1% of the world's population we produce 16% of the top quality published research. This research excellence is a major factor in the UK maintaining its position at number two in the 2015 Global Innovation Index.” Further information and the full report can be found here 

Promoting Innovation and Growth: The IPO at Work

The Intellectual Property Office has published Promoting Innovation and Growth: The IPO at Work.  This report covers the IPO’s activities over 2014/2015, including work that it has undertaken to build awareness of IP, ‘develop the copyright framework’ and support enforcement activities. The full report can be read here 

This week we have:

Demonstrated services which facilitate text and data mining to Brussels policy makers; met, separately with Vicky Ford MEP and the Commission’s Copyright Unit, to discuss publishing and the digital single market; met with the board of the Alliance for Intellectual Property where we heard from the IPO’s Chief Economist Pippa Hall; met with Creative Content UK; discussed current common issues with the British Copyright Council.   

Next week we will be:

Meeting with Adam Tickell to discuss his review of open access; meeting with members of the Publishers Content Forum; holding a workshop on diversity in publishing; meeting with Iain Wright MP to discuss plans for the All Party Publishing Group.