Changing copyright laws could "stifle" literature, report finds

Changing copyright laws in the UK could strike a blow to investment in literature, a report has found.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has produced the document for the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), which reveals that out of £4.3billion invested in new content in the UK, £1.6 billion was pumped into arts and literature alone. The statistics cover the year 2007.

The research also found that around 770,000 "original content creators"—from authors and artists to software developers—would be affected by any changes made to the UK copyright system.

Therefore changing intellectual property regulations to "benefit" companies such as Google, which reproduces content "at the expense of people who create content", such as authors, would stifle economic growth and innovation, the CLA has said.

"It's a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul and it's a very risky experiment with a creative sector which is worth around 8% of our GDP—roughly the same size as the financial services sector," Kevin Fitzgerald of the CLA said.

"PwC's report provides evidence that the present copyright system does drive innovation in the UK. In fact, with piracy being one of the biggest threats, we should focus energy on enforcement of the existing laws rather than introducing new ones."

The findings have also prompted author and publisher Toby Faber to speak out in defence of the current copyright system in the UK, and against companies which want to simply reproduce content.

He said: "Copyright is the lifeblood of our creative industries, which are vital to the British economy. We need to encourage people to create and innovate, and to reward them when they do, rather than enable anyone - from pirates to content aggregators - to hitch a free ride on the efforts of others."   

The report, released today [11th March], is being used to inform an independent review into intellectual property and growth, with particular reference to the digital economy. It has been commissioned by the government and led by Professor Ian Hargreaves.