Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Note to Chairman of JCSI on copyright exceptions

Given the recent decision of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) to spend more time considering the implementation of private copying and parody copyright exceptions statutory instruments, I've written to the Chairman of the Committee, George Mudie. Copy of my note below.
Dear Mr Mudie,
As Chairman of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI), I’m writing to you in relation to your committee’s recent consideration of the proposed five copyright exceptions statutory instruments (SIs). I note the Committee has concluded its consideration of three of the five but has some questions about the private copying and parody exceptions.

In light of the decision of JCSI to hold up the implementation of copyright exceptions SIs for private copying and parody, could I ask that you draw the Committee's attention again to the Consumer Focus report, 'The economic impact of consumer copyright exceptions'. It was first published in 2010, republished last year and is available at:


The report itself may be accessed directly at:


Full disclosure - I am an academic at the Open University and was involved in producing the report, along with colleagues from Oxford University, Mark Rogers and Josh Tomalin. Mark was terminally ill at the time and sadly died in July 2011.

An Oxford University economist of international renown, Mark was a passionate advocate for evidence based policy making in the intellectual property arena. Down to earth family man, friend, academic and practical economist, optimist, writer, basketball coach and player, runner, cyclist, all round handyman and an infinite well of sound personal and professional advice, Mark was one of those impossibly nice, exceptionally talented and generous individuals you’d like your children to emulate. The dignity and positive outlook with which he faced his illness were genuinely awe inspiring. The simple fact that someone of Mark’s ilk devoted considerable energy, over many years, to the importance of evidence based intellectual property policy making speaks for itself. What he had to say about copyright exceptions should be of particular interest to the JCSI.

In relation to JCSI’s recent deliberations, our Consumer Focus report focused solely on copyright exceptions as they relate to non-commercial, consumer activities. It dealt specifically with private copy format shifting and parody. We concluded -

Investigating potential economic damage to rights-holders requires an analysis of how consumer copyright exception could affect the demand for the original creative work. The processes via which consumer copyright exceptions influence the demand curve for original creative work can be complicated. This said, a standard analysis of the demand for creative works must assume that consumers incorporate the benefit of copyright exceptions into their demand. A consumer’s decision to purchase is based on the benefits of the product, including – in the case of creative work – the value of any copyright exception. In this sense, it can be argued that a creator automatically extracts value from copyright exceptions, since these directly influence the demand for the original creative work.

The economic evidence that format-shifting, parody and user-generated content cause any kind of economic damage to rights-holders simply does not exist. Arguments that support tighter copyright law, or support Private Copying Remuneration (PCR) systems, tend to confuse economic damage with consumer value. Any future analysis on this issue needs to investigate the conditions under which the proposed consumer copyright exceptions would have any impact on demand for creative work.

I hope that you and the JCSI find the report helpful. If you have any questions or I can provide any further input to the Committee’s deliberations on copyright exceptions do let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Ray Corrigan

Ray Corrigan, Senior Lecturer in Maths, Computing and Technology, Open University;

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