Welcome for Hargreaves authors’ rights report - in parts...

The Hargreaves report on copyright has been given a mixed welcome by the National Union of Journalists, which was among organisations that made submissions through the Creators’ Rights Alliance to the review by former Independent editor Professor Ian Hargreaves.

NUJ freelance organiser John Toner said: "We are pleased that the report rejects the so-called 'fair use' doctrine which is based on questionable notions of fairness. The doctrine, which comes from United States law, permits the use of a creator’s work without permission and requires potentially huge legal costs for a successful challenge."

The Creators' Rights Alliance expressed "regret that, following the sad example of previous reviews, Hargreaves has avoided confronting the issue of creators’ rights to be identified as author of their works and to defend their integrity - the so-called 'moral rights'. It is a nonsense to propose mechanisms for licensing of works whose authors cannot be identified - "orphan works" - while authors in the UK, whether they be scriptwriters or photographers, do not have a secure and enforceable right to be identified, preventing the orphaning of their future works. The deficiencies in UK law need to be remedied.

"In an age where, as Hargreaves notes, all citizens are likely to be published or broadcast creators through FaceBook and YouTube and so on, these rights and the right to a fair share of income from commercial exploitation of works are essential for every citizen. Hargreaves’s proposal that remedies for unauthorised use be restricted for those who have not registered their works (buried at paragraph 4.34) risks undermining the legitimate interests of citizens, particularly those of young creators who will be the drivers of the next generation of the creative economy.

"Indeed, the CRA is disappointed by the lack of measures to help individual creators - the people who actually do the creation that underpins the "creative economy" - achieve a level playing field. An exception is the recommendation for a Small Claims Court procedure for copyright cases, which we wholeheartedly welcome, long having called for it.

In this context the headline proposal for a "digital copyright exchange" requires much careful thought: how will it serve the interests of the actual creators, and how will it be regulated to ensure that it does? The biggest problems that individual creators face are not with teenagers copying stuff on their iThings: they are with publishers and broadcasters imposing unfair contract terms that restrict their ability to continue working as dedicated professionals on whose work the entire "industry" depends.

Last modified: 17 May 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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