Publishers "have nothing to fear from Hargreaves" - Vaizey

Publishers "have nothing to fear from Hargreaves" - Vaizey

Culture minister Ed Vaizey has suggested the results of the Hargreaves intellectual property review should not be feared by publishers, giving the earliest indication that the review takes into account industry concerns.

Addressing Publishers Association members at yesterday's annual general meeting, Vaizey said, having seen what he called a "half page" summary of the review's findings, publishers would not have cause for huge concern. He said: "My view is that [Hargreaves] has absolutely taken on board the concerns of rights holders and I don't think rights holders have a great deal to fear from Hargreaves."

Professor Ian Hargreaves has been leading the review into how the intellectual property system can better drive growth and innovation, with the final report initially expected at the end of April, but now understood to be coming in mid May. The PA submitted its portfolio of evidence, gathered from across the industry, on 4th March, calling for "minor modifications to copyright", and stating that introducing "elements of an American style fair use exception would create legal ambiguity and put a chokehold on innovation". Vaizey added he thought the review would solve the issue of orphan works, also raised by the PA in their submission of evidence.

In his speech, Vaizey also touched on the issue of e-lending in libraries, calling it a "live and lively issue". He advocated libraries supplying access to e-readers as well as the internet, although when asked to clarify his thoughts on it by Booksellers Association chief executive Tim Godfray, Vaizey said: "I certainly wouldn't want to make it mandatory. If I said 'ought', I perhaps should have said 'could'. There are local authorities I engage with that see the relevance of providing e-readers in their communities. I know the debate [around e-book lending] is lively . . . I believe it is important that content creators and owners make money from their product.

"I think in the physical publishing world we have had a very harmonious relationship between publishers and libraries and I hope that continues in the digital publishing world".

Also, on library cuts, he said: "I personally wish all of us had been more engaged with local authorities over libraries many years before . . . We have really first class library services in local councils, but we also have mediocre and poor ones. We can benefit from taking a long term attitude to change."

Vaizey also praised the network of IP attachés announced by chancellor George Osborne in the last budget, and supported by the PA, and said the first appointments were planned to be made to these posts by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over the future of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Publishing, after the chair, MP Gordon Banks had to stand down from the position due to a conflict of interest. Mollet said: "There is a danger the group will go chair-less, which can only happen for a few months before it [the group] falls into abeyance . . . We continue our pursuit for a new chair."