Digital Top Stories

Coadec calls for Hargreaves recommendations to become law

By | Published on Wednesday 6 July 2011


The Coalition For The Digital Economy, which represents various digital firms mainly based around the Old Street and Shoreditch areas of London town (or the Silicon Roundabout, as idiots are oft heard to call it) has called on the government to draft legislation that would enact the copyright reforms proposed in the recent Hargreaves Review of intellectual property law.

As previously reported, although recommendations in the IP review undertaken by Prof Hargreaves were not as radical as some hoped or feared (depending on your stand point), he did propose some changes to copyright law, including relaxing rules on reworks and parodies, and the introduction of a private copy right without a levy for rights owners. Coadec (the Coalition’s preferred nick name) is keen that those proposals are incorporated in British law sooner rather than later, perhaps aware that the Gowers Review in 2006 also proposed the private copy right and yet that has still to be enacted.

Ahead of a debate in parliament on Hargreaves tomorrow (albeit one instigated by back bench MPs and due to take place in Westminster Hall), Coadec said in an open letter: “Our organisations believe that the Hargreaves report represents a watershed for this country’s digital economy. The report recognises – as many digital businesses and entrepreneurs have known for a long time – that the nation’s intellectual property laws, and in particular copyright law, must adapt to business, social and technological change”.

Meanwhile the group’s Chairman, Jeff Lynn, who, it turns out, I’ve just called an idiot, added: “If the government fails to implement these reforms, it will show Silicon Roundabout that all their supposed support has been little more than hype, and that they won’t even take the simplest of concrete measures to help enable a world-class digital economy in Britain. Given the importance of facilitating economic growth in this climate and the strong potential for digital businesses to do just that, such neglect would be tragic and really rather odd”.

It remains to be seen if the government does turn Hargreaves into legislation and, if so, how the music business will respond. Self-harmers in the big record companies are already hatching a plan to call for a levy for rights owners to be added to digital music devices in return for the introduction of a private copy right (you know, like in Spain), which, as previously rambled upon right here, is an incredibly short sighted policy that will bring in nominal sums long term and which will further damage the reputation of music rights owners with the public at large. Which sounds like fun.

Elsewhere in politicians discussing copyright news, the government’s Ed ‘The Geezer’ Vaizey, as no one, as yet, has called him, has noted in a speech in London recent efforts in the US to block access to websites that routinely infringe intellectual property rights, which may result in American internet service providers entering into a voluntary code on the issue.

Website blocking was, of course, covered in the Digital Economy Act, albeit with a clause that stopped any new measures actually being introduced without further consultation. Vaizey is currently undertaking that very consultation, though wouldn’t comment on it at the Intellect Consumer Electronics conference this week, instead saying, simply, that if the US ISPs enter into a voluntary arrangement re blocking copyright infringing websites it could be “game-changing” on a global basis. Could be Ed, could be.

Of course, as well as the website blocking provisions of the DEA, the power of existing copyright law to force ISPs to block access to infringing sites is also currently being tested by the Motion Picture Association v BT legal battle.