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Copyright: the struggle continues

After the govermnent's statement of support for the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review into copyright law, the lobbying begins in earnest. The Liberal Democrats have produced a mixed bag of a policy paper with distinctly author-friendly noises; and this was written in a hurry to get to the launch of the Labour Party's new policy creative industries forum. (Illustrators, cartoonists and photographers are "authors" too, for the purposes of copyright law.)

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills announced before the official start of the silly season that it would be holding hearings on the Hargreaves Review, and the NUJ has made a submission to the MPs.

Key points we made include:

  • IF there is going to be any kind of provision for licensing of works whose authors cannot be identified - so-called "orphan works" - then one absolutely necessary concomitant to this is the extension of enforceable "moral rights" to all creators, including journalists. (The "moral rights" are, in short, the rights to be identified and to defend the integrity of your work.)
  • The bigger issue, in the view of NUJ Copyright Committee, is licensing of works whose authors are known, without explicit permission - for example when the BBC puts its programme archives online. Some of the requirements for such a scheme to be considered are:
    1. that it apply only to "secondary" uses - that is, re-distribution of works already licensed for publication or broadcast;
    2. that it be restricted to non-profit use by a reputable public-service archive organisation;
    3. ensuring that there is no possibility of infringing the right of integrity in the work through the location of its use - which means prohibiting sub-licensing to third parties and technical measures to make it difficult to "embed" BBC content in others’ websites, for example;
    4. specifing that said reputable organisation make visible alongside every work used in this way a strong warning to users about the need to contact the author before making any further use;
    5. specifying that authors shall be clearly identified alongside every work used; and
    6. that it be subject to said reputable organisation making equitable remuneration available to authors, on the model of Public Lending Right, to compensate for the loss of income from re-licensing a work that is now publicly available.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, that is not an exhaustive list of conditions: just those we chose to draw to MPs' attention now.
  • The moral rights are essential for both issues; as is the requirement that if authors are asked to relinquish the exclusive control over the use of their works guaranteed them by international and European law, they must control the mechanism that compensates them for this; any legislation that provided otherwise would be open to challenge in international forums.

The Select Committee asked us only to make points that hadn't been made to Hargreaves: so the aboves makes more sense when read in conjunction with the Creators' Rights Alliance submission, which the NUJ supported.


08 September

THE LABOUR Party launch turned out not to be of a policy as such, but of a new creative industries network. Investigation continues into whether this may offer anything useful, beyond the wine already consumed at the expense of a major film studio last night.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011; last modified: 08 Sep 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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