NMDC welcomes Government response to Hargreaves Review of IP 4 Aug 2011

The Government has announced that it will be endorsing all ten recommendations made by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his independent review of intellectual property (IP) and growth, stating that “The Government's goal is to have measures in place by the end of this Parliament that will realise the Review's vision and deliver real value to the UK economy, and to the creators and users of IP”.

Of particular relevance to museums, libraries and archives are the provisions for a solution to the issue of orphan works (works within copyright for which the rights holders are either unknown or cannot be traced).  Research produced by the Collections Trust in 2009 found that over 50 million items held by publicly funded agencies such as libraries, museums, archives and universities were likely to be orphan works and therefore may not be able to be made accessible in digitisation projects because of copyright restrictions.

NMDC believes the Hargreaves Review recommendations have the potential to radically strengthen innovation within the UK's research and development sector, and to inspire creativity and access to works held by cultural heritage organisations, in order to drive economic growth.  NMDC Chair Michael Dixon was co-signatory, together with other museum sector leaders, to a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Universities and Science Minister David Willetts in June, urging implementation of the recommendations and highlighting some particularly important areas strongly supported by museums:

  • The UK’s implementation of EU sanctioned copyright exceptions, which will drastically help reduce the overheads, costs and risks associated with the use of important works in the care of cultural heritage organisations for specific activities. (Recommendation 5)
  • The introduction of format-neutral “permitted acts” or “exceptions” for research copying, parody, preservation, format shifting, archiving as well as text and data mining. By ensuring that computers can lawfully extract facts and data contained within a book, journal or database we can speed up scientific discovery and the innovation cycle with life-changing benefits. (Recommendation 5)
  • Private law should no longer be able to “trump” the permitted acts provided by statute. Without enactment of this key recommendation the interests of our sector, and Hargreaves' own recommendations themselves, will continue to be overridden by contracts. (Recommendation 5)
  • The establishment of a Digital Copyright Exchange, to introduce in law minimum standards of practice for collecting societies and to rectify the current paralysing market failure by finding legal solutions for mass digitisation and use of single orphan works. (Recommendations 3, 4 and 5)
  • A strong Intellectual Property Office with the appropriate legal powers, meaning that the UK will be able to respond more quickly to technological change than it has been able to do in the past. It will also ensure that the appropriate IP regime is in place to support all forms of innovation and that balanced public policy formation, based on evidence, can become a reality. (Recommendation 10)

The Government response to the Review includes a series of actions and a broad timetable for the implementation of the recommendations. Detailed proposals for consultation on this are to be announced in the autumn.  Government response  British Library press release

More on NMDC's work on intellectual property.