Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strategic Advisory Board for IP priorities for copyright

In the thick of other things I missed the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy's (SABIP) publication last week of a very clear paper setting out its priorities for its copyright work programme. It identifies an interesting set of issues and actions:
"1. The role of copyright in stimulating creativity
and innovation...

SABIP will investigate how different types of copyright law7
enhance or reduce creative output. Does the system assist
creators in earning appropriate rewards, notwithstanding the
apparently widespread illegal and unpaid-for dissemination
of products? SABIP will analyse differences in returns
to stakeholders within national copyright frameworks of
varying approaches and will further explore the implications
of technologies of mass copying and distribution on these
returns. Is the existing system equipped to respond
appropriately to the effects of the new technologies?


2. Ownership and coverage of copyright...

SABIP will undertake research into alternative approaches
to copyright coverage which distinguish between
economic and moral rights and their potential advantages
and disadvantages. SABIP may, for example, conduct
comparative studies of copyright legislation in other
countries where the respective emphasis on moral and
economic rights differs from that in the UK. Notwithstanding
the diffi culties of effecting change within the context of the
relevant internationally binding treaties and agreements,
SABIP will also consider the likely economic and social
impact of potential changes in the law...

3. Rights management techniques and technologies...

SABIP will review the effects on the various parties
(creators, publishers and other providers, professional and
other users) of the adoption of Digital Rights Management
(DRM) Tools. In doing this, SABIP will explore sectoral
differences and the effect of external deterrents or any
barriers on take-up. SABIP will seek to identify the patterns
of use of DRM tools, their individual benefi ts and weaknesses
and their overall implications for various stakeholders...

4. The relation between copyright and contract...

SABIP will examine the relative effects of copyright law,
contract law and DRM/TPM technologies on incentives,
distribution of fi nancial rewards and the protection of user
freedoms. Do standard form contracts limit or hinder user
freedoms in particular creative sectors? SABIP’s research
programme may also explore evidence around claims that
creators lose out in the negotiation over contract terms.
SABIP will compare how legal models used elsewhere offer
protection to creators’ economic interests and moral rights.
In the light of this analysis it will consider whether there is a
case for amendment to the balance of UK copyright law in its
relation with contract law and how such a change could be

5. Simplifi cation of the copyright framework...

SABIP will investigate the perceived and/or actual
drawbacks of current copyright law in terms of its
complexity. For example, which provisions are narrowly
defi ned and therefore not relevant or comprehensible or
which boundaries of exceptions are unclear or confusing?
What impact does this complexity have on willing compliance
by users?
SABIP will consider what, if any, specific steps would
benefi cially simplify the law and rationalise the provisions
of the 1988 Act regarding copyright, in order that it is
widely accessible and comprehensible, as well as being
appropriately enforceable by those whose legitimate
interests are undermined by breaches of copyright.

6. Attitudes & Behaviours in the Digital Economy:
Implications for IP...

SABIP will: continue to explore the relationship between
the general understanding of the copyright framework and
compliance with the copyright framework; the extent to
which this framework is felt to be “fair”; effective means of
education as to copyright rights and responsibilities; and
the effectiveness of current or prospective enforcement
techniques. For example, SABIP will investigate whether
new types of content producer are aware of the copyright
protections available to them, and whether they are able to
deploy the system effectively.
The first phase of this project, a literature review, is due to
be completed in April this year. The fi ndings of the review
will be presented at a stakeholder workshop that will
contribute to the development of a large-scale consumer
survey into attitudes and behaviours in the digital economy
and their implications for Intellectual Property."
The hugely positive aspect of all of these research proposals is that they are firmly rooted in the notion of generating empirical data and analysis to inform policymaking. Each one of the six proposals is potentially a huge undertaking on its own if they are to be done properly, so hopefully SABIP have the substantive funding to support them. SABIP are planning to make their first substantive evidence-based policy recommendations within the next 12 months. Evidence-based intellectual property policy making - now that would be a paradigm shift! They are also inviting comments on the scope of their proposals.
"The Board and its Expert Panel will be developing plans for
undertaking this work programme over the coming months. This
process is intended to include both face-to-face discussions and
opportunities for written presentations on each of the specific areas
outlined in this paper. Any comments should be sent to info@sabip. most usefully by the end of May 2009."

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