A gaggle of the country's leading technologists have called on the prime minister to overhaul UK copyright laws or risk jeopardising his plans to turn London's East End into a thriving tech hub.
In an open letter to David Cameron and the government, representatives from a number of tech bodies have called for the recommendations of the recently published Hargreaves report to be implemented. According to the letter, these recommendations can be split into two categories: straightforward and complex.
Straightforward recommendations include allowing the licensing of orphan works, prohibiting copyright exceptions being overridden by contract, and making the intellectual property (IP) system more accessible for SMEs. Establishing exceptions to copyright for format-shifting, parody, non-commercial research and library archiving is also considered straightforward, as is giving the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) the power to issue statutory opinions.
Complex measures include promoting copyright exceptions for text and data analytics at an EU level, and supporting European Commission efforts to establish a continent-wide copyright framework. Incorporating measures in the EU framework to bring in copyright exceptions for new technologies as they arise is another complex recommendation, said the letter. Creating a comprehensive Digital Copyright Exchange, which would allow works to be licensed in a simple and transparent way, is the final recommendation.
The letter implores the PM to get the straightforward recommendations into statute books this year, while beginning work with the EU to bring in the complex recommendations "in the shortest timeframe possible".
Professor Ian Hargreaves' report on IP laws and their implications for the tech industry was published in May, having been commissioned by David Cameron in November last year.
"We have found that the UK's intellectual property framework, especially with regard to copyright, is falling behind what is needed," writes Hargreaves in the report's foreword. "The UK cannot afford to let a legal framework designed around artists impede vigorous participation in... emerging business sectors."
The open letter calling for the report's recommendations to be brought in was undersigned by leaders from The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT, TechHub, Bootlaw and the British Interactive Media Association.
Coadec chairman Jeff Lynn claimed failing to act on IP law threatens the viability of the PM's ambitious plans to turn the area around the Old Street roundabout in London (pictured) into a Mecca for tech startups.
"If the government fails to implement these reforms, it will show Silicon Roundabout that all their supposed support has been little more than hype, and that they won't even take the simplest of concrete measures to help enable a world-class digital economy in Britain," he added.
"Given the importance of facilitating economic growth in this climate and the strong potential for digital businesses to do just that, such neglect would be tragic and really rather odd."
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