Earlier this week the Association of Photographers (AoP) released their response to the Hargreaves Report, the latest on the merry-go-round of copyright and intellectual property rights reviews conducted by the UK governement, and Stop43 had some things to say about it, too. The general feeling was this was a curate’s egg: excellent in parts. But in many respects, it was a missed opportunity.
Sticking with European-style exceptions to copyright, rather than going down the US ‘fair use’ path was seen as a good thing. And the idea of introducing a fast-track system to make IP claims in the Patents County Court was met with applause. This is something for which the AoP has been campaigning for some time, enabling copyright holders a simple and cheap way to file claims against those who infringe their rights.
Hargreaves recommended a Digital Copyright Exchange – the idea being a one-stop-shop to register copyright and make licences for copyrighted work commercially available. Whilst this is a great idea in theory, the proposal isn’t quite right. It contains some major flaws, for example it suggests that Digital Economy Act (DEA) sanctions would only apply to works that were registered through the Digital Copyright Exchange. No, sorry, registered or not, people are entitled to have their rights recognised. (In fact that bit needs to be thrown away post-haste.) However, if these issues can be ironed out, this idea of an exchange could be a goer.
After working so hard to prevent Clause 43 of the DEA, Stop43 must be feeling entirely gutted that the collective licensing of orphan works has been re-recommended. We’ve already shown these ginks that collective licensing isn’t the way to go. It’s disengenuous and open to abuse. We acknowledge that orphan works is a tricky condundrum, but difficult problems don’t have easy solutions, so don’t try to apply one. (The AoP has pointed out that the EU is due to issue an Orphan Works Directive soon, which could be enlightening. Keep your fingers crossed, people.)
The concept of moral rights seems to have bypassed Hargreaves and his team entirely. Is it really so hard to accept that if someone creates something, they are automatically granted certain rights pertaining to it?
After so many hours and so many submissions, it’s really disappointing that Hargreaves and co didn’t listen to some key concerns from people whose livelihoods are dependent on, or simply feel strongly about, copyright. But, there are some interesting ideas there, and if we can shout loud enough, maybe the crazy ones will be ignored.