New copyright regime could add £7.9bn to UK economy
The new regime would see a Digital Copyright Exchange to facilitate licensing and trade in copyright materials, including “orphan works” whose beneficial owner is hard to establish. Hargreaves proposes that a work be considered orphaned if it cannot be found in the exchange’s databases.
This is likely to prompt a massive effort by so-called rights holders to vacuum up all existing orphan works and claim title to them.
But Hargreaves warns against over-regulation which could deter creative people from developing stuff from which they might benefit. A case in point is the use of copyright material to create a parody or library archive, he says.
He also says there should be no barrier to “home taping”, the copying of copyright material from one format such as a CD file to another, such as an MP3 file, for personal use.
He called for Ofcom to monitor carefully the impact of copyright protection measures, aimed at online pirates, in the controversial Digital Economy Act, which come into force next year. “This is urgent and Ofcom should not wait until then to establish its benchmarks and begin building data on trends,” he says.
He also recommends that the government set up a small claims track to allow copyright holders to enforce their rights for low monetary value IP claims in the Patents County Court.
Hargreaves stresses that action should be based on concrete evidence. This appears to be a reference to the presentation of selective evidence by some rightsholder lobby groups. A recent article in Canada’s Globe & Star showed that music industry revenues were in fact climbing even though record sales were down.
The UK’s own figures for music sales shows that sales of physical media such as CDs are dropping, but legal downloads already far exceed even the best years of physical record sales. The recording industry’s trade body IFPI said last’s year’s top selling digital artist, Ke$ha, sold 12.8 million downloads compared to 2009’s winner, Lady Gaga, with 9.8 million.
Although it complained about piracy, it said, “Digital music revenues grew by an estimated 6% globally in 2010 to $4.6bn, accounting for 29% of record companies’ trade revenues in 2010.” This was up from 25% n 2009. It added there were now more than 400 sources of legal downloads.