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Copyright exceptions will not deliver anticipated economic growth, licensing bodies say

Out-Law News | 02 Apr 2012 | 10:38 am | 2 min. read

Writing exceptions to copyright into UK law will not deliver economic growth and would in fact "remove the core asset value" in creators' content, a number of licensing bodies have said.

The Government has proposed widening copyright exceptions to allow limited private copying, introducing an exemption for parody and pastiche and widening exceptions for library archivists and non-commercial researchers among other reforms.

The Performing Right Society (PRS) for Music said it was a "myth" that copyright exceptions boost the economy.

"An exception may benefit the public sector, but that has to be weighed against the loss of revenue to the creative sector of the economy," the group said in a statement issued with the support of 11 other collecting societies.

"Far better for the Government to examine ways of modernising copyright licensing that incentivise digital businesses and creators together, so that consumers pay a fair price and creators receive a fair reward and incentive," it said.

In the statement, which was signed by bodies including the Newspaper Licensing Agency and Motion Picture Licensing Corporation, PRS for Music said projected reforms to the UK's intellectual property framework would not deliver the £7.9 billion growth anticipated by the Government.

"Some proposals lack any financial analysis. In others, the assumptions are flawed," the statement said. "More worryingly, the negative effects on creative industries have been ignored completely."

PRS for Music said that copyright did not stifle innovation and act as extra regulation. It said that copyright licensing was not "broken" and was in fact "growing".

The group said that a successful system for the distribution of copyrighted works involves rights holders making material available at a "fair price" which consumers can "easily" access for a "fair price". Businesses are required to deliver a service that does both under such a framework, it said.

However, the Government's plans – driven by the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) – threatens to "undermine" the success in the growth of licensing, PRS for Music said.

"Creators should not be forced to give away their work for free in order to subsidise other businesses through more exceptions," it said. "Consumers should not be directed to illegal services. Businesses should not be held back by unnecessary red tape."

"Yet, the Intellectual Property Office’s proposals fail to grasp the new opportunities available and deny a sustainable future for creators. Furthermore, their proposals are based upon the flimsiest “evidence” and their numbers don’t add up. They cannot be allowed to undermine a UK success story."

The licensing body proposed an "alternative" system to the one drafted by the Government. Its 'Copyright 3.0' plans support "new licensing models for orphan works and extended collective licensing to increase accessibility of creative works".

The group is also backing plans for the creation of a new digital copyright exchange. "We are investing in new systems and we support plans to create a simple-to-use online portal to facilitate licensing copyright works to businesses," it said.

The group said it also supports "transparent and accountable" business standards and that it is "committed to voluntary codes of conduct" to embed those standards. It called on the IPO to explain and promote copyright and licensing.