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UK Government Order Review of IP Rights 159

Posted by Hemos
from the changing-of-the-mind-&-guard dept.
quaker5567 writes "The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has ordered an independent review of intellectual property rights in the UK. The review will be led by Andrew Gowers, formerly the editor of London newspaper The Financial Times. The review will look into the awarding of IP rights to business, the complexity of current laws and the extent of "fair use" in the current law. Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate. Andrew Gowers recently criticised the print industry for not realising the true power of the digital platform, comparing them to a record company which specialises in vinyl."
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UK Government Order Review of IP Rights

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  • From the article: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by demondawn (840015) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:15AM (#14184445) Journal
    "The UK's IP regime is a critical component of our present and future success in the global knowledge economy."
    The whole "IP IS EVIL, DESTROY IP" slant on Slashdot aside....I'm not even sure what this article is saying. This sounds, more than anything, like "come bribe us for 12 months while we 'study' IP". Maybe US the US political system has just made me too cynical.
  • by Snamh Da Ean (916391) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:18AM (#14184464)
    Interesting that they have got someone who used to be involved in print media to review IP. The FT have been subscription only for quite a while now...

    As for whether it is legimitate to enforce copyright 70 years after an author's death, it seems clear that any reasonable economic analysis would conclude that the marginal incentive provided to authors by this absurd protection doesn't influence their output of creative work, and is only likely to cause detriment to those who cannot afford to pay full price for a novel or other creative work. This would include citizens of LDCs, and poor people, two groups in particular need of reasonably priced access to important literary or academic works.

    It could be argued that publishers are more likely to support struggling writers if they can collect money for 70 years after the death of the author, but where is the evidence that 10, 20, 30...years after the author's death wouldn't provide exactly the same incentives to publishers to hunt for the next JK Rowling?

    Here is a (pdf) link to some of the main economic issues involved here http://www.oiprc.ox.ac.uk/EJWP0502.pdf [ox.ac.uk]
  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:36AM (#14184586) Homepage
    Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate.

    As a UK citizen, this has got me worried. I don't think there has ever been a government that has *reduced* the copyright term. This move also probably ties in with the announcement earlier this year that they were going to extend the copyright term on recordings from 50 years to 100 years (after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?).
  • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:51AM (#14184712) Journal
    It's labour.. have they done a single thing that's good for "the people"? All I see is abuse of prisoners, higher taxs, more schooling fees and erm Jamie Oliver complaining about food..

    We all know labour will do the EXACT opposit of what the people want..
  • Heres the deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:08AM (#14184831)

    You see, the UK, and especially the US are starting to realise that they have way too much debt for all that stuff they bought on credit from overseas, in their housing markets, in their bond markets, and in their industries. In fact, in economic circles bankers talk about the fall of the dollar as if it was pre-destined (which it is).

    The deal is that they have this wet dream that they are going to be able to export their "intellectual property" abroad, to make up for all these economic imbalances - and bring them unlimited growth and profit.

    I think they are going to be in for a very very rude supprise.
  • 70 year copyright (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dunstan (97493) <dvavasour.iee@org> on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:27AM (#14184979) Homepage
    I ran into just this problem with a piece of Easter music I wanted to use, written by Vaughan Williams. He died in the 1950's, so he is in copyright for another 20 years.

    I approached the copyright administrator for permission to reprint something for our congregation, and they wanted more royalties than I was prepared to pay. The net result is that a piece of music which Vaughan Williams wrote for the greater glory of God was not sung because of the copyright laws, and the excessive copyright terms. He couldn't have guarded against this - the term was life+20 at the time of his death.

    The whole idea of posthumous copyright terms was to ensure that any dependants who were still minors would be supported after the author/composer's death should it come prematurely, hence life+20. Instead, longevity and life+70 terms mean that sacred music written over 100 years ago is still "owned" (no pre-1923 clause in Europe).

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