The key argument is that the proposals are hopelessly skewed towards the interests of those - such as Google - who want to make money by re-using existing words, pictures and sounds.
At the heart of the present consultation... is an economic illiteracy: throughout, income
from licensing copyright works is counted as a cost to the economy - whereas fashion design, for
example, is counted as income. The NUJ shares the British Copyright Council judgement that this represents an "unjustified ideological shift".
The consultation is not alone in this: it has been argued by COADEC, the "Coalition for a digital
economy" whose prime sponsors are Google and Yahoo!8, that there should be an exception to
copyright for small businesses9. What effect would that have on other startups that hope to make
a living by licensing copyright works? Should electricity or water be free to startup businesses?
Further, because of the narrow way in which Professor Hargreaves interpreted his brief - to
stimulate growth - and because the government adopted the proposals arising from the report
without fully considering the implications, the present consultation fails to ask questions about
the "consequential amendments" that are absolutely necessary if certain of the proposals are to
These consequential amendments include:
- Provision to ensure that individual creators are rewarded for the use of their work; and
- Provision to ensure that individual creators are entitled to be identified and to maintain
the integrity of their work.
Without creators, of course, there are no creative industries. Too much of the focus of the Hargreaves report and hence of this consultation is on ways of re-using already-created works for profit. The economic purpose of copyright, however, is to reward those who produce new work, so that they may dedicate themselves to producing new works as professionals building their expertise. Without new works, the creative industries die.
A longer summary and more links to relevant responses will appear here soon.
One very significant development is that Consumer Focus is supporting the above principles: for a report of a meeting at the House of Commons on Tuesday 13 March on what creators and consumers can find in common,
see the Creators' Rights Alliance site.