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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  • The widespread use of the Internet and the advent of high-speed digital networks has made it increasingly easy to copy and share digital information quickly, easily and without appreciable loss of quality. This has enabled widespread copyright infringement, most notably the use of file sharing technologies to download unlicensed music. It has been suggested that copyright exceptions lack clarity and are ill equipped to deal with these technological challenges. Furthermore public awareness of the boundaries of lawful use is low, and legal sanctions on infringement appear to lack clarity and consistency across different forms of IP.

Link to this section

3 responses

  1. Mark Levitt Says:

    It should be noted, of course, that the “advent of high-speed digital networks has made it increasingly easy to copy and share digital information quickly, easily and without appreciable loss of quality” also means that the price producers can charge should drop.

    Consumers aren’t stupid. They know that the cost of production for music delivered digitaly is lower than that of a physical CD. So, they rightly expect to pay less.

    The use of DRM by the industry is often more about monopolistic price fixing than piracy. The producers don’t want consumer price pressure to affect their bottom line.

  2. Tom Morris Says:

    The last sentence in this section seems important too. Copyright valuation can be rather ridiculous – the Curry case in the Netherlands illustrated this. Curry recieved a valuation of his CC-licenced (Attr-NC-SA) images at €1,500 per image because he has not got a current commercial interest in their reproduction. Meanwhile, a song taken from a DRM network is valued at many, many, many times the value of it. Currently, the going rate for a 128kbps file is 79 pence / 99 US cents / 99 € cents (what Apple’s iTunes charges). Why then is copyright infringement of commercial music valued much higher than other copyright violations?

  3. James Says:

    Put bluntly, the point being missed is:

    Need a decent encyclopedia? Try http://wikipedia.org (an encyclopedia created by the people for the people and recently confirmed as being as accurate as Encylopedia Britannica).

    There is something envigorating (for me) about being able to go to wikipedia.org and immediately correct articles – almost invariably just the odd spelling / grammar mistake generated by an enthusiastic contributor who may not have English as a first language.