ACID, along with many other IP stakeholders, has spent many years lobbying for a dedicated intellectual property minister to spearhead the UK’s IP strategy. Finally, aggressive lobbying paid off with the Gowers’ Recommendations of 2006 and the appointment of the well-respected Lord Triesman in June 2007. We were hugely optimistic about Lord Triesman’s appointment as he demonstrated a real understanding of the complicated raft of issues affecting different IP rights’ holders.
Now we understand Lord Triesman is going to the FA. Whilst it will be football’s gain, its IP’s loss. Having unanimously won the contest to be the first independent FA Chairman, it only remains for the appointment to be confirmed by the full FA council on 16 January.
As with any new Government post, it takes a Minister several months to get to know all the key players within IP and to fully understand the difficulties facing many rights’ holders through counterfeiting, piracy and design theft. IP stakeholders have also invested a great deal of their time in briefing the new Minister on their issues and attending consultation meetings to put their case on behalf of thousands of interested parties. It is to be hoped that momentum and continuity will be maintained in the handover to a successor. Let’s hope that Government will make it a priority to select a ministerial candidate with a similar, refreshing approach and enthusiasm for IP issues that Lord Triesman has demonstrated in his short foray into IP.
On January 8th in what may be Lord Triesman’s last stewardship of IP, he launched a copyright consultation at the British Library following the Gowers Recommendations. This will deal with improving access to and the use of copyright material specifically a new exception for format-shifting, copyright used for educational purposes, research and private study, libraries and archives and parody. The Copyright Exceptions consultation closed on 8 April 2008.
Lord Triesman said, “Copyright law affects our every day lives whether through the music we listen to, the films we watch and the books we read. It underpins the success of a variety of culturally important and economically successful sectors of UK industry such as music, film, computer games and sport. In an increasingly digital world, we need to be sure that our copyright system keeps up with the times and works effectively. This consultation is part of a package of measures which is designed to do just that. It explores where the boundaries lie between strong protection for rights holders and appropriate levels of access for users. A system valued by rights holders and respected by users is critical to the success of UK creativity”.
Ian Fletcher, Chief Executive said, “We should not underestimate the importance of making sure that we draw the line between access and protection in the right place. I appreciate that there will be a range of views as to where that line should be but I would urge all those with an interest to make sure their voice is heard”.
At the event, ACID CEO Dids Macdonald urged Lord Triesman to make a clear distinction between what is legal and illegal activity so that this can be simply communicated to consumers in a fair and sensible manner, “IP theft affects a plethora of different and varied rights holders but the basic message should be made clear that IP theft should be considered as seriously as any other sort of theft”.