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PA's PA 21st October 2016

PA's PA 21st October 2016

Welcome to this week’s packed PA’s PA in a week in which the Government announced that tea, jam and biscuits would be at the centre of the UK’s Brexit trade strategy and Theresa May warned her fellow European Union leaders that there can be “no second referendum” on the UK’s EU membership. But second referendum or not, it is still unclear whether the Government will be able to trigger Article 50 without the consent of Parliament, with a landmark legal challenge on the question drawing to a close this week. As the UK moves swiftly on towards Brexit, UKIP is struggling to find its identity now its political purpose has been achieved, with its leadership frontrunner Steven Woolfe quitting the party, declaring that UKIP is in a “death spiral”. Meanwhile Labour comfortably held Batley and Spen, following the death of MP Jo Cox, and the Conservative’s Robert Courts held on to David Cameron’s former seat, despite a 19% swing to the Lib Dems.  And if there is not enough going on in British politics, in the US Donald Trump shocked commentators by refusing to say that he would accept the election result if he loses, in a statement seeming to threaten American democracy.

In this week’s issue from Frankfurt:   

In this week’s issue from the UK:


Open Science

Commissioner Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, addressed the STM Conference in Frankfurt.  Billed as a speech on Open Science: the next steps, the Commissioner used the opportunity to reiterate the commitment announced in May that all European public-funded scientific research will be published Open Access by 2020.  He remains clear that open content is transforming how research develops and that while 50% of research is already published open access his eye is firmly on making this 100% by the 2020 deadline.  This is a stated political priority because, according to Moedas, open access opens research results to a wider audience; allows research to be reused; and allows for global collaboration.  Crucially, it puts society at the centre of research, allowing them to go “behind the headlines” with the public having the right to “see what they pay for”.  He pointed to how the EU is leading by example in its requirement that all Horizon 2020 funding research be published open access and is now looking to others follow suit in order to see the “urgent and substantial” progress needed to meet the goal.  The Commissioner did not shy away from pointing out what he perceived to be the barriers to this goal – how research is measured; what value for money looks like; and how it requires publishers to come up with new business models.  He wants publishers to have strong business models but they “have to go with change and reinvent themselves”.  

Year in Copyright

Chair of the PA’s International Board, CUP General Counsel William Bowes, took to the Publishing Perspectives stage at the Frankfurt Book Fair to provide thoughts on what has been a turbulent year for copyright law around the world.  Starting by reminding the audience of the original purpose of copyright, to provide for the encouragement of learning, he explained how its move away from this original purpose due to the needs of other industry sectors could be seen as the root cause of some of the criticisms the concept now finds itself under; the fact that what was designed to encourage learning is now being seen by some as a block to learning.  Politicians are now fixated on access to content and forgetting about the supply-side; how there has to be incentives and mechanisms for the content to be created and disseminated in the first place.  Fundamentally, according to Will, while our arguments in support of copyright are rational, logically and legally accurate, the arguments of those pushing for a freer, looser system are emotive and aspirational.  Will argued that if we want to reverse this trend, being seen internationally and particularly in Common Law countries, of ever-expanding exceptions to copyright, particularly around education, we need to emphasize how copyright is a social good and not be afraid to be clear about the sort of copyright publishing wants as opposed to other content industries and also the value that publishing skills bring to ensuring the sustainable provision of high quality education.  Part of this, Will concluded, will involve acknowledging where perhaps copyright can be made to work better for publishing and education and provide practical solutions.

Implications of Brexit

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, The PA teamed up with ALPSP and the London Book Fair to host a discussion on the implications of Brexit for academic and scholarly publishing. Richard Mollet, RELX group, was in the chair  with Richard Fisher of the IPG and Andrew Robinson of Wiley, airing their views. Asked first to identify any positive implications both pointed to the beneficial impact of sterling's steep depreciation on book export prices and increasing the attractiveness of the UK to US research funds. However on the negative side, concerns were noted as to whether the impression (at least) and the eventual likelihood of tighter immigration controls would deter potential employees and researchers. Linked to this is the question of whether the UK can continue to attract Horizon2020 research funds (although it was noted that many non-EU countries currently are in the programme. On regulation, although initially the UK and EU frameworks on copyright and data protection would be in lock step, the possibility exists for divergence if either side developed its own new laws (the potential for the UK to adopt a fair use regime for copyright was noted). Ultimately the discussion was more pessimistic than optimistic about the impact of Brexit but the sector is in a resilient state to help it deal with the negative effects. 

Update on EU copyright reform

Maria Martin Prat, head of the EU’s copyright unit, addressed the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) annual meeting in Frankfurt and provided an update on the new proposed copyright directive presented by the Commission on 14th September.  Maria has long been a supporter of the publishing industry noting how publishers have been at the centre of the debate about the future direction of copyright policy.  However, she doesn’t see the process as one of ‘reform’ but believes it is appropriate to ‘review’ whether current rules are the right ones for what has become the “new normal” (ebooks, subscription services, online access etc).   Maria didn’t talk through the measures proposed in the directive in detail but instead sought to provide some context to why the changes are deemed necessary in the form they have been presented.  One could view this as the EU now having to reap what they have sowed as the level of harmonisation the EU has now achieved in respect of copyright law means it is very difficult for member states to undertake the sort of reforms that are necessary themselves; the systems are now so linked together the scope of manoeuvre for individual countries is limited.  A clear example of this is the fallout from the Reprobel judgment where the Commission has had to step in to ‘allow’ countries to amend their laws domestically rather than the member states being able to act independently of Brussels.  This acknowledgement of the consequences of harmonisation is what is behind the perhaps surprising level of flexibility found in this directive; the Commission finally adhering to calls for it to focus on what measures member states need to have in place, but leave it to the member states themselves to decide how this should be implement taking into account the differences in national law, society etc as evidenced by the wording of the new illustration for teaching exception.  Interesting Maria did indicate that this concept of member state flexibility would be a theme for copyright policy going forward.  The PA also met separately with Maria where the education exception, the measures around author remuneration and the need for wording to mitigate ‘exception linking’ were discussed. 

The meeting also heard from Pierre-Yves Andrau from DG Trade who expressed strong support for the publishing industry and the need for copyright to be respected internationally to allow the EU’s content industries to trade and export.  He acknowledged the challenges the industry is facing in a number of territories and reassured the audience that they remain in close contact with Canada, South Africa and India (in relation to this he noted the briefing he’d had earlier in the day on Delhi from the PA).


Select Committee update

Damian Collins, Conservative MP and chair of the Conservatives Creative Industries Network (CACIN) has been elected as the new chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee after defeating Helen Jones. He replaces fellow Tory MP Jesse Norman. Labour MP and remain campaigner Hilary Benn has been elected as the Brexit Committee Chair, winning against prominent leave backer Kate Hoey. Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe has been elected chair of the Science and Technology Committee, SNP MP Angus MacNeil has been confirmed as chair for the International Trade Committee and Yvette Copper will replace Keith Vaz as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Meanwhile the Culture Committee will hold a one-off oral evidence session with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley next Monday. It will take evidence on what she considers priorities for her department, with questions likely to cover cyber security, broadband, broadcasting and the implications of Brexit.

Higher Education and Brexit

Downing Street has refuted suggestions that it may consider removing foreign students from overall net migration figures, after the Chancellor said he thought they should not be counted. Despite appearing to say that it may reconsider including international students in the figures as part of an overall review of the immigration system, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said it is “categorically not reviewing” this policy. The issue came to the fore after Philip Hammond suggested that the public did not view foreign students temporarily at UK institutions as migrants and suggested that highly skilled workers were also not a major area of concern. Earlier on Thursday a Number 10 spokesperson said that the issue of migrant numbers coming into the country, student or otherwise is an issue that will be “very closely looked at by the government”. But later a spokesperson said: “Our position on who is included in the figures has not changes, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included.”

Matt Hancock says future of culture is digital

Digital and Culture Minster Matt Hancock has said the nexus where “world-beating content meets cutting edge technology” is where the future economy will thrive, in a speech at the What Next? Conference in Manchester this week.  He said he was struck by how many conversations in the first few months of his job have been about digital transformation, declaring that the “techie is increasingly the artist”. He said: “With digitalisation comes a breaking down of silos between sectors, the blurring of the lines between disciplines – theatre is becoming film; computer programming merges with sculpture”. He continued: “people still love a book, a film, a painting, a play; more people can find these classics. But they now sit alongside a new form of cultural consumption inspired by technology.” He added that digital has the potential to democratise culture and bring creators and users closer together.

Schools update

The Government has scrapped plans to make all children who fail maths and literacy tests at the end of primary school sit them again in secondary. The Education Secretary Justine Greening said that instead the Government will “focus on the steps needed to ensure a child catches up lost ground”. She also announced that the spelling and grammar tests for seven-year-olds introduced last year would remain non-compulsory next year and promised teachers that no new tests would be introduced before 2018.

Meanwhile BBC research has revealed that fewer than half of England’s grammar schools give poor pupils priority in allocating places. The analysis of 163 grammar schools’ admission policies found that 90 do not take into account a child’s eligibility for free school meals. It also revealed that 21 grammar schools set aside places in quotas for pupils from lower income families, a further 43 gave some degree of priority in their oversubscription criteria and nine use it as a tie-breaker for allocating places.

Open access grants

Research Councils UK has announced that it will be offering open access block grants totalling £14m in 2016/17, which will be distributed across 79 institutions. The grants have been allocated taking into account the open access funding received by each institution to date and their expected costs to the year. The grants are designed to support the implementation of open access policies to make publically funded research more accessible.

MPs debate BBC Charter

MPs debated the BBC Charter this week, with Tom Watson, the new Shadow Culture Secretary, saying Labour had “some misgivings” about the charter, including about the move to shift the cost of free TV licenses for the over-75s onto the BBC. He described the move as “political irresponsibility verging on negligence”, and said Labour was considering whether to challenge this measure during Committee Stage proceedings on the Digital Economy Bill, as it would effectively cut the BBC’s budget by 20%. However Karen Bradley said the funding settlement would put the BBC on a “sustainable footing”. She added that the charter would increase the BBC’s independence, improve its regulation, ensure transparency and accountability and encourage it to “work with rather than against” the rest of the creative sector.”

First Director General for Digital and Media

Former British ambassador Matthew Gould has been appointed the Director General for Digital and Media in the Department for Culture Media and Sport this week, to lead “the nation’s drive to capitalise on digital technology”. He will take a prominent role in equipping the UK with the skills and technology it needs to create world-leading digital business, making sure everyone can enjoy the benefits of modern technology and improving connectivity in the UK.

Cabinet Committees

The Government has announced the full list of cabinet committees and subcommittees this week, including its new European Union Exit and Trade Committee, where half of the positions are going to Eurosceptic MPs. As well as the three Brexiteers, Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, other leavers on the committee are the International Development Secretary Priti Patel, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Meanwhile the pro-remain committee members are the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, and Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin. The full list of committees can be seen here.

This week we have:

Been at the Frankfurt Book Fair; met with Maria Martin Prat, Head of the EU Copyright Unit; caught up with colleagues to discuss common issues and challenges; attended the General Assembly of the International Publishers Association and other IPA meetings; heard from DG Culture on the future plans for the Creative Europe fund for translation; presented to the IPA Educational Publishers Forum on our on quality guidelines for textbooks;

Continuing discussions on the copyright reform package with FEP; attending the Man Booker Prize; talking to students in Bristol about the careers options open to them in publishing; meeting with the Creative Industries Council