Parliament committee backs copyright
THERE'S NO REST for the innocent. We await, as we go to press, the imminent official publication of the government's proposals on the licensing of "orphan works" and on "extended collective licensing".
Members of the working groups advising on the legislation have had confidential previews of the proposed legislation. It is probably not a breach of confidence to say that a large number of concerns were raised over matters of detail. Your union will be thoroughly checking that the government is honouring all the commitments on safeguards for authors - including illustrators and photographers - that it has made over the past two years.
On 9 September the government slipped out a consultation on the regulation of collecting societies. Officials confirmed that this is the full proposal for regulation - including the measures to apply to those that will wish to apply for authorisation to issue extended collective licenses. You will not be surprised to hear that we are asking for the maximum democratic representation and fair distribution to authors.
We are also waiting for the government's response to the consultation on proposed exceptions to copyright - rules for when your work may be used without permission from, or payment to, you.
On 26 September the Parliamentary Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport issued a highly critical report entitled "Supporting the creative economy", which recommended notably that: "the introduction or amendment of copyright exceptions should be contemplated only following detailed impact assessments and after proper parliamentary scrutiny on an individual basis". It concluded that it is "not convinced by [Professor Ian] Hargreaves' implication that a facility for private copying is factored into the purchase either of music or devices that store, play or copy it."
The responsible Minister, Viscount Younger, was candid in evidence about influences on the process: "Google is one of several search engines," he told the Committee, "and I am very aware of their power, put it that way. I am also very aware, I think, that they have access, for whatever reason, to higher levels than me in No. 10, I understand."
It remains to be seen, given this, whether the government will pay any attention to the Select Committee. Music industry interests have already lodged notice of their intention to challenge in court any proposal for a "private copying" exception that does not include the "fair compensation" mandated by EU law.
In other news, the "Copyright Hub" has launched its Phase 1a - largely informative - at www.copyrighthub.co.uk. The Hub process has produced a voluntary code for the preservation of "metadata" with creative works (especially photographs). It's not awful.
And the European Federation of Journalists has met with Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner responsible for authors' rights. He was clear that there will be no moves to weaken these on his watch: unfortunately that ends in 2014.