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Intellectual property rules to be overhauled by government

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As expected, Business Secretary Vince Cable has accepted all ten recommendations made in Professor Hargreaves’ independent review on intellectual property, which estimates a potential benefit of up to £7.9bn to the UK economy.

Published last May, Professor Hargreaves’ report, Digital Opportunity: A review of intellectual property and growth, offered ways for the government to modernise UK intellectual property law.

“By creating a more open intellectual property system, it will allow innovative businesses to develop new products and services which will be able to compete fairly in the UK’s thriving markets for consumer equipment,” says Vince Cable.

“Opening up intellectual property laws can deliver real value to the UK economy as well as the creators and consumers.”

The recommendations that the government have accepted include:

  • That the UK should have a Digital Copyright Exchange – a digital marketplace where licenses in copyright content can be easily bought and sold. This could add up to £2bn a year to the UK economy by 2020.
  • Copyright exceptions covering limited private copying should be introduced. This will bring copyright law into line with the real world: currently, thousands of people legitimately copy purchased contents, such as a CD to their computer or iPod, assuming its legal when in theory it isn’t.
  • The introduction of an exception to copyright for search and analysis techniques known as “text and data mining”, allowing research scientists greater access to data.
  • Establishing licensing and clearance procedures for “orphan works” (material with no known copyright owner). This would open up a range of works that are currently locked away in libraries and museums and unavailable for consumer or research purposes.

Global trade in IP licenses is worth more than £600bn a year to the UK, making it a highly valuable industry for the British economy. 

“UK businesses need to have confidence in the international IP framework so they’re able to create and exploit value from their ideas,” says Baroness Wilcox, the minister for intellectual property.

As part of the governments response, a new intellectual property crime strategy has also been published, outlining how the Intellectual Property Office will continue to enforce IP crime issues.

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