Fair use copyright law "would create uncertainty"

Introducing an American-style "fair use" exception for intellectual property would result in greater uncertainty for copyright holders, the Society of Authors and Association of Authors Agents have claimed.

Both organisations were responding to the Hargreaves Review into IP and Growth, made as part of an umbrella submission by the British Copyright Council.

In its 48-page submission, which included case studies, Hargreaves said the existing laws protected copyright holders. It said: "The fair use system does not provide greater benefits than fair dealing. It is more complex, resulting in greater uncertainty and it is more costly for all concerned."

It also argued copyright law did not inhibit growth. The report said: "There are other factors which more directly inhibit growth, some of which have already been identified by this review such as access to finance, to which could be added skills needs, absence of tax breaks and general national access to broadband."

It attacked previous legislation as not being based on solid data and demanded a more fact-led approach for future legislation.

The submission also hit out at those critical of existing copyright laws. It said: "They are unwilling to acknowledge that creative content, like any other commodity, has a value and that they are working in a competitive marketplace."

Elsewhere in the report, it claimed the Publishers Association is anticipating the value of the digital market will have increased 30% on 2009's figure of £93.7m.

Hargreaves is expected to report his finding to the government by mid-April.