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The Hargreaves review of  intellectual property  law gave hope to those from the digital world that the UKgovernment was prepared to consider some new thinking over the tricky aspects of digital copyright.  But the review team have been subjected to heavy rights-holder lobbying. 


The deadline for submissions to the UK's Copyright Review ended last week on Friday. The aim of the inquiry was to investigate how intellectual property (IP)  law should be changed to support new and innovative, hi-tech businesses.  Now, as they plough through the submissions, many people will be hoping that Ian Hargreaves and his team  at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) are brave enough to come up with some truly innovative answers to the copyright dilemna.


The rights-holders have evidently not left it to chance. The IPO has put online a list of

submissions received prior to the deadline , and it is jam-packed with rights-holders, indeed technology companies and non-rights-holders are very scarce. I can spot just four technology companies  - Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft (which is also a rights-holder) and TalkTalk, the ISP which is taking the government to court over the Digital Economy Act. There do not appear to be any citizens' representatives on the list (although maybe they did appear by the final deadline?).


 Moreover, we learn that  the Creative Coalition  ( a rights-holder lobbying group)  have been in for a meeting .  The trade unions, who took part in that same meeting,  have warned Mr Hargreaves not to put jobs at risk.


Having studied this topic for the last four years, I think it is a fair guess that the rights-holders have put a heavy case for enforcement. These guys play hardball.  Moreover, many of the names on the list will almost certainly be  repetition -  it is very likely that  the members of the so-called coalition will be  the same names repeated over and over again.


All this leaves us to surmise how much real room the  Hargreaves review has to manoevre. Maybe it depends on who is really calling the shots in this review. David  Cameron's new friends at Google, or his old ones (cuddling up to Jeremy Hunt) in the music and entertainment  industries?


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2011) Rights-holders heavy UK copyright inquiry 10 February 2011

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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