Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the UK general election trundled on with all parties finding it difficult to enthuse the electorate amid charges of negative campaigning. Our Chief Executive provides his latest thoughts on ‘What May May Bring’ here.
The Green Party’s proposals for copyright came in for criticism this week. Authors (supported by The PA here) roundly ridiculed the suggestion that copyright term should be reduced to 14 years. Read The Bookseller report on this here.
Lib Dems: The Power of Creativity 2
The Liberal Democrats launched their Creative Industries strategy for this week at the Roundhouse in London. The Power of Creativity 2 (following the first Power of Creativity launched in the run up to the 2010 General Election) details the Lib Dems vision for the creative industries in the UK and how to ensure that they continue to flourish and sets out the party’s priorities in this area for the next Parliament. It even includes a couple of recommendations from The PA’s own manifesto. The main pledges of interest to publishers are:
- Continue to support for the Creative Industries Council and the Create UK strategy
- Create a single Minister for IP and the Creative Industries
- Extend PLR to audio and ebooks and further extend it, when possible under EU law, to remote e-lending
- Eradicate child illiteracy by 2025
- Support long term funding for the Police Intellectual Property Crime Group (PIPCU)
- Increase penalties for online copyright offences
- Review whether the law governing unfair contracts should be extended to include IP contracts
- Merge Creative & Cultural Skills and Creative Skillset
- Bring control of libraries into a single government department
Discussions continue in Brussels as we build up to 6 th May which will see both the publication of the Commission’s White Paper on the Digital Single Market and the vote in the Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee on the Reda Report (although latest intelligence is pointing to this vote being postponed). A draft of the White Paper has been leaked (which IP Kat reports on here) and while we understand it is not the final version which all the Commissioners are now approving it does include the areas we have been expecting Vice President Ansip to be focusing on. Proposals in this version include measures to:
Put an end to unjustified geoblocking
Allow for the full portability of content
Facilitate access to legally paid for cross-border services
Enhance legal certainly and enable more cross-border use of content for specific purposes (e.g. research, education, text and data mining)
Review the enforcement framework to provide for more effective and balanced cross-border civil enforcement
In addition, The PA undertook a fact-finding trip to Brussels meeting with the UK’s Permanent Representative and a number of UK MEPs where we pressed how publishing is already operating in a digital single market. Issues remaining on the agenda with those we saw include harmonisation of copyright, text and data mining, reform to the exceptions for education and libraries and elending.
Launch of #copyrightforfreedom petition
In light of the above, the Federation of European Publishers has launched a pan-European social media campaign to highlight the central place copyright holds in our society and the valuable role it plays as guarantor of freedom of expression. Such activity is important because those who seek to undermine copyright and see it weakened for spurious reasons have a track record of successfully using social media to give the impression that many agree with the notion that copyright is not important; that it restricts access to literature, research and cultural heritage. This is, in turn, colouring how European politicians are approaching policy reform in this area.
The campaign has two elements:
- A petition, hosted on the change.org website, which calls on the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to support a robust copyright system to foster the European creativity that goes hand in hand with freedom of expression.
- A twitter hashtag (#copyrightforfreedom) to be used when posting tweets drawing attention to the campaign, petition and generally messages which support copyright, creativity and freedom of expression.
The PA is joining with FEP in asking all its members to sign the petition and encouraging them to ask others to do the same.
Use of terminals in libraries
We received worrying news from our colleagues in Germany this week with regards to an ongoing case they have concerning the use of terminals in libraries. Following the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case Technische Universität Darmstadt v Eugen Ulmer KG in September 2014, the German Federal Supreme Court decided on 16th April 2015 that libraries can digitise anything from their (print) holdings under the relevant German exception for libraries (§ 52b German Copyright Act) if this is required to make available these books on dedicated terminals in the premises of the library. This exception is based on Article 5 (3n) Information Society Directive. The exception is subject to existing contractual agreement but the Court held that the mere offer of such agreement is not sufficient. In a second step users at the terminals could be allowed to print and download the digitised versions to take home with them under the private copying exception in Germany.
The PA has been in contact with the Intellectual Property Office about this case to seek clarification that the UK provision on making works available through dedicated terminals is different to the relevant German provision. We will be back in touch with them following this decision.
Meeting with IPO Chief Economist
As part of a delegation from the Alliance for Intellectual Property, The PA met this week with the Intellectual Property Office’s new Chief Economist, Pippa Hall. While there is no confirmed work programme at present given the upcoming change in government, the team did agree with us of the likely need to conduct further research into the impact of the Commission’s planned copyright reforms, once they are known, agreed that this would need to be undertaken quickly, and confirmed that budget was available for such research to be commissioned. Evidence gathering is underway on pricing across the EU, with the IPO having asked its embassies to supply data on the pricing of music, film and books. Reassurance was given that such information is only one element to consider and that on its own it has no value; other facts need to be brought into play such as differences in levels of VAT and, for publishing at least, the existence of fixed price systems in some Member States.
The Telegraph reports on Nick Clegg’s pre-emptive bid for the Lib Dems to run the Department for Education should the party form part of another coalition government. Speaking in Cornwall, the Deputy Prime Minister said the Liberal Democrats were the "party of education" and that he wanted to build on its "great work" in coalition by demanding that the next education secretary comes from within the party’s ranks. “Having wasted a lot of time dealing with a lot of zany ideological gimmicks from Michael Gove and his team, I think it would be a good thing if the Liberal Democrats were able to run education policy on our terms,” Mr Clegg explained.
In an interview with the Guardian, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has announced that a Labour government could replace GCSE’s with a single baccalaureate within a decade, the reasoning behind this being the need to shift the focus to education which finishes at 19 unlike GCSE’s which, at the time of their creation, were considered the exit point of education. Mr Hunt said: “More and more academic research shows children are starting to think about their career pathways at 14 - technical, vocational or academic - yet we have an examination system that has a school-leaving certificate at 16."
This week we have….
Met with UKREP, MEPs Mary Honeyball, Emma McClarkin, Catherine Stihler and the assistant to Vicky Ford MEP; met with the IPO’s new Chief Economist, Pippa Hall; attended the International STM Conference in Washington DC and the Sharjah Book Fair.
Next week we will be…
Meeting with Creative Content UK; holding a seminar on the new accessibility regulations for PA members’ operational directors; discussing upcoming communications activity with our Read On Get On coalition partners; attending the Alliance for Intellectual Property’s strategy day; meeting with Creative Skillset; meeting with the British Library; and attending a meeting of UKTI’s Education Sector Panel.