Copyright "drives growth", Mollet tells select committee

Copyright "drives growth", Mollet tells select committee

Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet has defended the fundamental value of copyright at a select committee evidence session into the Hargreaves Review.

Speaking at the Palace of Westminster this morning (1st November), Mollet told the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills committee, chaired by Labour MP Adrian Bailey, that there were "a number of good ideas" among the review's 21 recommendations, including that of a Digital Copyright Exchange to make licensing easier. However, the review takes "a negative view of copyright throughout" and sees copyright "as an obstacle to growth when it is a driver of growth", he said.

Mollet described copyright as "a technology-neutral framework" which gained strength and flexibility from its indifference to technological changes. He also said the recognition of moral rights was crucial, criticising the review's focus on the economic aspects of intellectual property. He said: "You cannot jettison moral rights. Part of copyright being a property right means you can say, 'No, I wrote that and I don't want you to use it.' It is fundamental."

Mollet told the committee that extended collective licensing was not wanted in the UK other than for orphan works, and said that while publishers fully support content mining, it must be managed to avoid commercial risk. He said: "Publishers have to know those mining are who they say they are and are using it for non-competitive use. It would put the UK at a disadvantage to be saying to anybody, 'Come on in and get our data.' We support mining but we think access has to be managed."

Mollet also urged that there be swift progress on establishing the digital copyright exchange. He said: "Hargreaves indicates it should happen quickly, with a convenor in place by the end of 2011. The government needs to get on with appointing that convenor."

Mollet gave evidence as part of a panel which also included Ben White, head of intellectual property at the British Library; Alexander Jackman of the Forum of Private Business; and Paul Ellis of copyright campaign group Stop 43.