Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not all government thinking on copyright takes place on David Geffen's yacht

With Mandelson determinedly pressing ahead with his bid to take the internet away from naughty boys and girls, it's refreshing to see some brighter thinking coming from HM Government on copyright.

Today, the Intellectual Property Office published © The Way Forward. David Lammy has been in charge of steering this document, and PaidContent UK have picked out some of the themes:

The copyright system cannot be expected to command public support unless consumers can use works in the ways they want, such as sharing photos with friends on the web. This means rights holders offering works with broader terms of use.”

—It acknowledges that individuals resent restrictions on personal, non-commercial uses of material, and advocates an EU-level distinction between commercial and non-commercial copying...

—That could include legalising more outright copying, the creation of sound/image mashups, format-shifting and sharing material with family and friends, the report says. But: “(This) could impact on revenues for rights holders; (so) an element of fair compensation for any loss would be required” (who will pay?). And commercialising such mashups wouldn’t be allowed under these exceptions.

The "fair compensation for any loss" is the disappointment - someone is going to have to break it to the content owners that they're going to have to start accepting their profit margin has shrunk, and no attempt to reinflate to pre-web levels is going to work, but I suppose there needs to be some sort of vague promise to keep them on board.

A distinction between commercial and non-commercial copying, though, would be a great starting point.

Pity the impetus will probably vanish as soon as the first returning officer declares a result next May.