18 May 2011

Intellectual Property and Growth review

The Independent Review of IP and Growth today published its report Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. Its recommendtions cover the whole range of Intellectual Property issues, including designs and patents as well as copyright. However, some elements of the report are of particular relevance to libraries including:

  • encouraging the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange to manage the licensing of copyright material;

  • creating "Extended Collective Licensing" to enable digitisation of orphan works (works for which copyright holders cannot be traced);

  • introducing a copyright exception to facilitate text mining for non-commercial use (and advocating for changes within the EU to permit this for commercial use);

  • recommending extending copyright exceptions to facilitate library digitisation of orphan works and to enable preservation of multimedia materials.

The report also makes other important recommendations (some of which were proposed by the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in 2006 - but have yet to be implemented), including the creation of a copyright exception for format shifting activities for private use (eg copying CDs to computer or MP3 devices), and steps to prevent commercial contracts from overriding copyright exceptions. It discusses how "the concept of 'ownership' and 'purchase' has itself been redefined" (p.68) by new technologies and sales models - a major challenge for libraries since the beginning of online database and e-journal delivery.

Another significant observation from the review, potentially of relevance to my interest in social enterprise, is the scale of the potential benefits to small and medium enterprises from improving IP frameworks.

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