Lawmakers need to use evidence to shape copyright policy and not be swayed by ‘lobbynomics’, according to an intellectual property review commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
“On copyright issues, lobbying on behalf of rights owners has been more persuasive to Ministers than economic impact assessments,” stated the Digital Opportunity review [PDF] of intellectual property, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves.
Another was the UK’s earlier support for the push to extend the music copyright from 50 to 70 years, despite a lack of evidence that it would further intellectual property’s prime goal: the incentive to create.
“No one has yet discovered a mechanism for incentivising the deceased,” the report noted, urging the government to limit regulation to “the provision of incentives to creators”.
Existing copyright laws negatively impacted the economy in a variety of ways, by forbidding consumers from changing the format of copyrighted material, preventing libraries making digital archives and blocking researchers’ access to copyrighted data.
The report recommended the UK establish a centralised Digital Copyright Exchange to facilitate the trade in rights as part of a wider overhaul of the intellectual property regime. This would add £750 million(AU$1.14 billion) a year to the nation's gross domestic product, the report said.
“This will make it easier for rights owners, small and large, to sell licences in their work and for others to buy them. It will make market transactions faster, more automated and cheaper. The result will be a UK market in digital copyright which is better informed and more readily capable of resolving disputes without costly litigation.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable welcomed the complicated and controversial issues the report covered.
"The report highlights real scope for changes to copyright laws which could add enormous value to the UK economy.
"Intellectual Property has an enormous impact on individuals, businesses and industries across the UK. It affects what we can and can't do in business, education and in our daily lives. Technological innovation, successful creative businesses and strong international brands need to thrive."