Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week which saw the first Queen’s Speech of a majority Conservative Government in nearly 20 years. Developments also continued in the race to become the next leader of the Labour Party with Chuka Umanna and Tristram Hunt both throwing their weight behind outsider Liz Kendall, giving her campaign much-needed momentum. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper must be getting concerned….
The first Queen’s Speech of a majority Government after a general election often lacks surprises as it simply translates the main points of the governing party’s manifesto into legislation. Today was no different with Bills to provide for an in/out referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017 and to devolve further powers to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly taking centre stage. The Queen announced 27 bills in total with the only surprise being that it wasn’t 28 – the much anticipated Bill to bring in a British Bill of Rights failed in the end to make the final cut, even in draft form. Cameron instead announced a period of consultation on the pros of replacing the Human Rights Act with a new legal framework of rights and responsibilities. No legislation was announced which will have a direct bearing on publishers, however we will be keeping a close eye as Bills such as the (returning) Investigatory Powers Bill and the Education Bill progress through parliament in case there are any unforeseen consequences. A full list of the bills and a brief guide to their contents can be found here with more detailed information available here.
The High Court granted The Publishers Association’s application under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for a blocking order against the main UK ISPs in relation to seven sites which were hosting or linking to substantial amounts of infringing content. The PA took this action on behalf of its members to ensure they are able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity and to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material. The full press release can be found here. This has received wide coverage including in The FT (£), The Bookseller, Bookbrunch, Torrentfreak and on the BBC. PA Chief Executive, Richard Mollet, even appeared live from the US on BBC World TV!
IP Crime Group
The PA attended the latest meeting of the IPCG where the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) reported that since the beginning of the year they have taken down 5400 sites and in the last 4 months have made 40 arrests regarding counterfeiting and pirated goods. The IPO announced that they are developing a Future of Intellectual Property Crime Strategy, to be published later this year, and more details on this will be given at the next IPCG meeting. The increasing use of social media platforms in acts of counterfeiting and piracy was highlighted throughout the meeting. Trust and Safety Manager at Facebook EMEA, Victoria Baines, gave greater insight into this and explained the measures Facebook has in place to aid different territories protect IP breaches made through the platform. John Hodge, Head of Internet Investigations at BPI, provided updates on the work being undertaken by the IPCG Social Media Working Group. The working group has received a good level of local authority engagement which has enabled them to progress in operations to uncover counterfeiting and piracy on social media sites.
IPO Roundtable on the digital single market
The UK government continues to gather views to assist it in developing its response to the Commission’s White Paper on the digital single market. Following the event at BIS last week (reported in PA’s PA), this week it was the turn of the IPO. While it led to a few flashbacks for those of us who sat around the same table discussing much the same issues during the Hargreaves Review, the IPO’s desire to engage and understand industry’s views is very welcome. The main issues on the agenda were portability of content, access to content and exceptions, including text and data mining. The overwhelming view in the room, and not just from rightholders, was that much greater clarity is needed before views can be comfortably given. The PA stressed the need for the UK to hold the Commission to be held to its promise to undertake an assessment of the need for legal clarification of copyright law before coming forward with any legislative proposals on exceptions, and on TDM pointed to the existence of licence solutions as well as the ‘triple-lock’ present in the UK exception (non-commercial, legal access, publisher control).
UK cultural impact
Speaking at the Hay Festival, cultural historian, Dominic Sandbrook, has highlighted the incredible global reach of British cultural and creativity. Ostensibly there to promote his new TV series ‘Let us entertain you’ and accompanying book, he used a number of publishing references (the fact that the world’s bestselling author is Agatha Christie, the bestselling book Lord of the Rings and the longest running film franchise James Bond) to demonstrate how the UK is a cultural powerhouse. This is an important message for the UK Government to hear and act upon as the reform agenda progresses in Brussels.
Former Education Secretary Estelle Morris is advocating that Labour takes the time and space on offer to develop medium and long-term thinking around education policy. In the Guardian, she highlights three things which could underpin a new approach. Firstly, it needs to rethink the relationship between politics and education. Secondly, education policy and practice needs to become evidence-based. And lastly, she says, the relationship between politicians and the education profession needs to be rebuilt.
The Guardian also reports that the Government is to trial a second resit in Year 3 of the phonics “screening check” for those who failed the assessment in Years 1 and 2.
This week we have:
Been at Book Expo America; attended a meeting of the IP Crime Group; participated in an IPO roundtable on the Commission’s proposals for a digital single market and visited the Hay Festival.
Next week we will be:
Attending a joint meeting of European publishers and European legal deposit libraries; discussing joint political activity with the Booksellers Association; meeting with the Read On Get On coalition communication leads; attending the Government’s Copyright Advisory Panel (chaired by the IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe) and meeting with BBC Learning to discuss Reading for Pleasure.