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A New Beneficial Law for Digital Copyright…

Britain’s copyright licensing system has been the subject of a fair amount of criticism of late.

The V&A, for example, complained they’d spent 125 working days and £14,000 in order to track down the copyright owners of 270 still images for one of its exhibitions.

Similarly an educational institution, Scotland’s Colleges stated its members had faced various problems when endeavouring to get permission to use teaching materials from nine different copyright-collecting agencies.

Complaining about the labour intensiveness and expense [ie. around £10m a year] of conducting copyright clearances, the BBC issued a statement that they “would like a copyright licensing regime in place which reflects the needs of a digital converged world – a world increasingly dominated by high-volume, low-value transactions as opposed to the low-volume, high-value transactions that were a feature of the analogue era”.

The Government responded in November 2011 by appointing Richard Hooper (a former deputy chairman of Ofcom) to investigate whether the current copyright licensing system was “fit for purpose”.  Mr Hooper’s final report will be submitted to Vincent Cable in July 2012, when he is expected to recommend the creation of a “Digital Copyright Exchange”, or some other industry-funded solution.

Based upon his research so far, Mr Hooper states that the system needs to be “streamlined”.  So far he suggests that copyright information relating to a range of different industries should be collated and stored in a database, which will then be made accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.  The intended outcome is to “drive economic growth across the UK’s creative and technology industries”.

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