Monday, April 11, 2011

Hargreaves review into IP to publish findings in April

Professor Ian Hargreaves will deliver his findings into whether reform of the IP framework in the UK is justified this month. The initial impetus for this was the suggestion from Google that the European Copyright framework would have stopped them launching over here in the UK.

An interesting argument but a more likely explanation would be the lack of VC funds available and willing to take a "punt".

In Google's submission they state that "the development and growth of the US technology sector has not been at the expense of the content industries". This argument would probably not play well with those in the DVD business and the recorded music industry as their revenues have been decimated by the pirates who use technology platforms such as Google and YouTube to monetise their illegal distribution.

However - change is inevitable and the content business needs to adapt. Nevertheless when an author / creator has created some IP they must be entitled to hold exclusive rights to that creation for a period. Google are lobbying for a relaxation of "fair use" and a clarification of mere conduit status so they can be sure to escape liability down the road.

YouTube's publication of a broad range of premium content which clearly breaches copyright has caused some commentators to label it a theft machine. Given that ViaCom are locked in legal action with YouTube in the US they are not entirely on the right side of US copyright law either.

It also remains to be seen what real legal status this review will have. The UK sits within the European Copyright framework and the various WIPO treaties and these are unlikely to fall under the remit of this review.