Hargraves Report and Copyright reform

19 May 2011

Ok so we now have the report commissioned to look in to reform of “Intellectual Property” from Professor Ian Hargreaves.

I did a quick bit of searching through the document to see if this is any better than the previous report. The terms Creative Commons, GPL, and Copyleft are not mentioned at all. There is one reference to open-source in a footnote comment:

US Social Science Research Council, 2011, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, p52-53: “Piracy, in effect, has allowed the major vendors to dominate low-and middle-income markets …… that they have little financial incentive to serve. …… piracy acts as a barrier to entry for competition, especially “free” open-source alternatives that have no upfront licensing costs. When these emerging markets begin to grow, as most did in the last decade, piracy ensures they do so along paths shaped by the powerful network and lock-in effects associated with the market leaders…….. As Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes obvserved: “In the long run the fundamental asset is the installed base of people who are using our products. What you hope to do over time is convert them to licensing the software” (Mondok 2007).

There does appear to be some sensible suggestions in the report, establishing the Digital Copyright Exchange, and using this to declare unlisted works as Orphan works.

4. Orphan works. The Government should legislate to enable licensing of orphan works. This should establish extended collective licensing for mass licensing of orphan works, and a clearance procedure for use of individual works. In both cases, a work should only be treated as an orphan if it cannot be found by search of the databases involved in the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange.

How can this be even considered as a comprehensive review if it fails to take any account of open-source, and creative commons licensing of works. This means that the review has only listened to the big media companies and powerful vested interests. They do list the Open Rights Group as a consulted organisation but they cant have listened to anything that they said.