PA welcomes select committee report on Hargreaves

PA welcomes select committee report on Hargreaves

The Publishers Association has welcomed the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report on the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, with c.e.o. Richard Mollet particularly praising the committee's acknowledgement that copyright is a property right.

The report considered the Hargreaves Review and the evidence that had been presented to the inquiry over issues such as content mining, the proposed digital copyright exchange and orphan works. Among the arguments of the committee, led by chair Adrian Bailey, was that "the ability to read published scientific data automatically is useful and needs to be opened up. The committee recommends a further look at cooperative licensing models before any wholesale exception is implemented." The committee also backed the idea of a digital copyright exchange, put forward in the Hargreaves review, provided it is "kept simple and there is a proper cost/benefit analysis".

Mollet said the PA "strongly supports" the committee's recommendation that content mining is developed in a "managed way", based on licensing processes as opposed to creating a new copyright exception, which was what the Hargreaves Review had proposed. He said: "Such an exception would deprive publishers of the ability to manage access, monitor abuse and protect copyright."

Mollet also said: "The select committee report explicitly acknowledges that copyright is a property right—something the Hargreaves Review failed to do. Publishers are already working towards a market-led solution based around the development of model licences. We also welcome the recommendation that further economic analysis will be necessary, especially when it comes to introducing new exceptions such as for parody."

It is expected that the government will respond to the inquiry report within three months, and is likely to take on board its recommendations as it compiles its own response to the copyright consultation.

Meanwhile, the Publishers Association has also welcomed Ofcom's Digital Economy Act implementation measures, published yesterday, which clarify how the DEA will operate in practice.

Copyright owners are expected to invest in awareness campaigns to help educate consumers about the impact of copyright violation, according to the measures in Ofcom's draft code, with the code to initially cover internet service providers including BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group, and Virgin Media. The ISPs would have to send letters to customers, at least a month apart, informing them when their account is connected to suspected online copyright infringement.

Another change in the code is that copyright owners' procedures for gathering evidence must now be approved by Ofcom, rather than the copyright owners themselves.

Mollet said: "The implementation of the Digital Economy Act is an important step in our fight against online copyright infringement."

He said the DEA is most important as "a communication tool", used to notify copyright infringers. He said: "We would anticipate that for very many infringers, these notifications will drive a change in behaviour. But the provisions also make it easier to target repeat infringers for civil legal action if that is required."

The PA will now engage with Ofcom on the consultation process, working with members to work out whether and to what extent the PA will take part in the first wave of sending notifications to infringers.