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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  1. How IP is challenged and enforced

    (a) Are there specific problems with enforcing the main different forms of IP: patents, copyright, trade marks, and designs?
    (b) Are there barriers to challenging infringement and enforcing your IP rights on grounds of cost? What drives these costs?
    (c) To what extent does your organisation make use of other methods than litigation to resolve IP infringement cases, for example the Patent Office opinion service, mediation services, Alternative Dispute Resolution, or the Copyright Tribunal?
    (d) To what extent do you use IP litigation insurance? How effective is it?
    (e) Are there barriers to using such methods to settle IP disputes without recourse to litigation? How might they be removed?
    (f) Are there specific barriers to challenging and enforcement of IP rights for small businesses or individuals?
    (g) To what extent is the risk of litigation a factor in your organisation’s investment in innovation?
    (h) What are the principal barriers to efficient and successful challenge and enforcement internationally?

Some responses:

Leave a response and read more»

Specific Issues

Current term of protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights

Background: The Review will fulfil the Government’s commitment to examine whether the current 50 year term of protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights in sound recordings is appropriate, in the light of its extension to 95 years in a number of other jurisdictions.
(a) What are your views on this issue?
(b) Is there evidence to show the impact that a change in term would have on investment, creativity, and consumer interests?
(c) Are you aware of the impact that different lengths of term have had on investment, creativity, and consumer interests in other countries?
(d) Are there alternative arrangements that could accompany an extension of term (e.g. licence of right for any extended term)?
(e) If term were to be extended, should it be extended retrospectively (for existing works) or solely for new creations?

Some responses:

  • (a) As a private individual/music buyer, I'm against any copyright term extension, retrospective or not. The "artists still alive" ...
  • (a) As a performer (I am a member of an unsigned band), I do not believe that the copyright term ...
  • I think it is true that the European recording copyright extension matter will be decided on factual rather than anecdotal ...
  • I am a private collector of old recordings and believe that there should be no change to the copyright laws ...
  • All arguments for extending copyright from 50 to 95 years and the extraordinary proposed retroactive change to the law which ...
  • Although the United States grants a 95-year copyright to sound recordings being produced now, it should be pointed out that ...
  • THE PROPOSED EXTENSION OF MECHANICAL COPYRIGHT TO 95 YEARS I write as a music hall and historic recordings expert re the ...
  • Tony Barker (above) makes some highly illuminating points regarding the inadequacy of the proposed changes to enable the continued promulgation ...
Leave a response and read 8 »
  • Copyright exceptions – fair use / fair dealing

    Background: There are a number of exceptions to copyright that allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright holder.
    (a) What are your views on the current exceptions in copyright law?
    (b) Could more be done to clarify the various exceptions?
    (c) Are there other areas where copyright exceptions should apply?
    (d) Are the current exceptions adequate or in need of updating to reflect technological change? For example copyright law in the UK does not currently have a private “fair use” exception. Such an exception might allow individuals to copy music CDs onto their PC and MP3 player for their personal use. Should UK law include a statutory exception for “fair use”?
    (e) How would you see content owners being compensated for such use?
    (f) To what extent has technological change presented difficulties in use of copyrighted material in the field of education?
    (g) Are there issues concerning the archiving of material covered by copyright?

Some responses:

  • a) I think the current exceptions and fair use terms are adequate and should not be reduced or extended. However... b) ...
  • We absolutely need a right to private copying of ALL formats (e.g. for space-shifting or making backups). If you ...
  • "fair use / fair dealing" is a minefield for an organisation and service such as Wikipedia due to the available ...
  • I agree that fair use rights are essential, but simply adding fair use rights to copyright legislation will not help ...
  • The Centre for Social Media recently published a Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use (available at http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fairuse.htm). ...
  • (d) UK law should include a statutory exception for personal, private use. If I knew I was going to ...
Leave a response and read 6 »
  • Copyright © digital rights management

    Background: Increasingly digital media content is distributed with digital rights management (DRM) technologies that can enable rights-holders to track usage and prevent unlicensed copying by technological means. However concerns have been raised about interoperability and that such technologies may impair the content consumer’s legal rights. For example they may be unable to take into account exceptions to copyright, the ultimate expiry of copyright term, or the future evolution of technology. They may therefore undermine legitimate rights to access digital content, now and in the future. (NB: We are aware of all formal submissions that have been made to the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group on this issue.)
    (a) Do you have a view on how the use of digital rights management technologies should be regulated?

Some responses:

  • Note that ORG has collected its own and others' APIG submissions on its wiki.
  • (a) DRM should be left unregulated (to regulate it would be to give it more permanency than it deserves), but ...
Leave a response and read 2 »
  • Copyright — orphan works

    (a) Have you experienced any difficulties in identifying the owners of copyright content when seeking permission to use that content?
    (b) Do you have any suggestions on how this problem could be overcome?

Some responses:

  • There's a huge problem in music and literature not so much with "Orphan Works" but with works that are ...
  • In response to ZoĆ« Lofgren's Orphan works bill and the US Copyright Office's Orphan Works report: http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/ Lessig has written a very ...
Leave a response and read 2 »