The Hargreaves report, or to give it it’s proper title “Digital Opportunity” report, was issued on the 18th May.
Professor Ian Hargreaves, who was tasked with producing the report holds the chair of Digital Economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School. The report itself took 6 months to produce and it considered how the national and international IP system can work best for promoting business growth and innovation.
The report recommendations, if implemented, aim to give the UK a competitive advantage and bring it to at least the same level in some areas as the USA. Also there is the potential to add up to 0.6 per cent to annual GDP and to cut the costs of doing business with IP-related business by £750m within a decade.
The reports key recommendations are:
- UK should have a "Digital Copyright Exchange": a digital market place where licences in copyright content can be readily bought and sold, a sort of online copyright shop
- the Government should legislate to permit access to orphan works, where the owner cannot be traced
- updating what it is lawful to copy. This includes copying for private purposes (such as shifting music from a laptop to an mp3 player)
- the Government’s IP policy decisions need to be more closely based on economic evidence and should pay more attention to the impact on non-rights holders and consumers
- changes to the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) powers to enable it to help the IP framework adapt to future economic and technological change
It’s seems likely that it could have a massive impact on the use of copyrighted works and of course that is going to have an equally large impact on business. When Vince Cable announced the report’s completion he said
“…this review isn’t about sacrificing the interests of Britain’s creative industries to those of Google. Neither is it about “preserving the business models of the creative industries in aspic,” to borrow a phrase from my colleague Jeremy Hunt”
How is Hargreaves likely to affect businesses legally?
When I contacted Alan Thomas, head of technology & media at specialist insurer Hiscox, he said that,
"One of the major costs to businesses lies within the process of obtaining permissions from rights holders for their digital material. Companies such as Spotify and Last FM have already highlighted this challenge and for smaller start ups and digital entrepreneurs this remains a major hurdle making it difficult to enter the market, which in turn stifles innovation.”
Alan Thomas also makes the point that there are several risks that entrepreneurs should be aware of, and these are:
· The potential for expensive litigation costs when testing the boundaries of any new legislation.
· The challenge of keeping businesses and individuals aware of the changes in law and their obligations in an every changing landscape. We’ve seen how difficult this can be with the recent European legislation on cookies
· Finding ways of monetising content whilst allowing revenue to flow back to the true copyright owner. Not easy in a culture of consumer behaviour where many expect to receive all their online content for free
· Shifting or creating new business models which allow established media companies to continue to deliver quality content to their consumers in a profitable way
It certainly looks as though more copyrighted content will be able to flow into the market. My concern is what happens if someone copies content that isn’t registered at the Digital Copyright Exchange?
I’d like to thank Hiscox who are business insurance experts for the opinions they gave. Obviously as providers of specialist cover for SME’s including professional indemnity insurance and employers liability insurance they have a very strong vested interest in helping business limit the risk and liabilities of wrong use of copyrighted material.