Gowers Review of Intellectual Property

At the Enterprise Conference on 2 December 2005, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that, as part of the Pre-Budget Report 2005 package, he was asking Andrew Gowers to lead an Independent Review to examine the UK's intellectual property framework.

The Open Rights Group has been formally invited to participate. We are currently drafting our submission and wish to include your thoughts and opinions. We have reproduced the Call for Evidence below and invite you to contribute - just hit 'respond' next to the paragraph you wish to comment on.

Many of the questions asked by Andrew Gowers in this review are very focused, but you should feel free to comment on the issues and the wider implications rather than feel obliged to provide specific answers. If you want to talk about issues not raised by this call for evidence, please do - just leave your comments on the Introduction.

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  • There may also be a number of barriers to efficient markets for copyright licensing. A significant proportion of copyrighted works are presently unavailable because they have little private value to the existing rightsholder — they do not merit the cost of being re-issued. Such works are therefore inaccessible to consumers and to other firms wishing to license or purchase the rights, and it often becomes difficult to trace the authors and rightsholders of such works.

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3 responses

  1. David Mytton Says:

    This points presents a case for compulsory copyright registration so that after the copyright expires, it can automatically become public domain. However this would cost and considering how much material can be copyrighted, the costs may become too much. This is particularly the case with computer software which is ever changing and so the registry would require constant updating.

  2. Richard Kirk Says:

    Compare and contrast copyright law with the Freedom of Information Act…

    Sensitive documents used to be stored for release after 30 years, 60 years, or very occasionally 100 years, when the original need to conceal the document will have gone. Now, if the document is known or guessed to exist, it may be asked for. The secure solution is to make sure the document does not exist. This means our country’s history is being shredded.

    There are cases where plagarism can deprive the rightful owner of revenue or other value. With the passage of time, it becomes less and less likely that any serious case can be bought (with the strange exception of the Peter Pan copyright, which really ought not to exist). However, the threat that any old document may have copyright reserved on the original copy, and legal actions such as the case against the annagram Underground map, or the use of the Red Cross trademark in video games is stopping the copying or circulation of anything that might have a copyright or trademark. On the net in particular, that is tantamount to destroying the document itself.

    There should be clear limits to copyright law. Anything that is older than a certain date ought to be exempt unless there is clear evidence otherwise. There ought to be a requirement to show the plagarist has knowlingly copied, and in doing so has bought significant harm to the original author.

  3. James Says:

    Sounds like gobbledegook to me – so much for my Oxford degree!