Hargreaves review welcomed by digital businesses

Three digital businesses, including We7 and Google, have welcomed the recommendations from the Hargreaves review of intellectual property law.

David Cameron: prime minister's commissioned report is welcomed
David Cameron: prime minister's commissioned report is welcomed

The 'Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth' report commissioned by the prime minister and published yesterday, pushes for a rethink on intellectual property law in an attempt to promote innovation and growth in the UK.

It recommends the introduction of a digital copyright marketplace and the liberalisation of access to "orphan works" – works for which the copyright owner cannot be traced – for commercial use.

As well as new business start-ups, the recommendations could benefit companies such as Spotify and We7, which have negotiated deals with rights holders to allow them to stream their music.

Steve Prudham, chief executive of We7 said the review is a "great catalyst going forward", from which "everyone benefits".

He said: "There are a lot of competitors to We 7 that exist in illegal forms, so the easier the copyright and licensing regime becomes, the easier it will be for legitimate businesses to grow."

The current law in the UK is "not fit for purpose and really holding back the industry," according to Chris van der Kuy, chief executive of Brightsolid, the company which owns genealogy website Findmypast.co.uk and social network Friends Reunited.

He said: "We will see much more use of copyright material in a more positive way, that will generate fantastic products and opportunities for everybody.

"There are lots of internet companies which keep on the right side of the law but there are plenty of places on the internet which ride roughshod over them, on the basis it is difficult to track them down and prosecute them."

However he argued the implementation of the recommendations must be simple: "This is where the hard work begins and as a digital industry, we want to make our voice clear to make sure these laws are formed in the right way."

He said the review is only the start: "As usual, the devil is in the detail and copyright law means lots of copyright lawyers, which is where the fun begins from their point of view."

There was a less favourable reception to the review from the Motion Picture Association, which represents the six major film studios.

Chris Marcich, president and managing director of the MPA, said: "We welcome the assurances regarding better enforcement at home and abroad and the measures to assist in rights clearance where there is market failure.

"But we are concerned about a number of recommendations which will have an impact on the film industry including proposals related to exceptions on copyright and linking the Digital Copyright Exchange to enforcement."

The report stopped short of introducing a US style "fair use" system, enabling internet operators to use limited amounts of content without permission from rights holders, which would have benefitted companies such as Google.

A spokeswoman for Google said: "We have long argued in favour of moderate copyright reform, to foster innovation and create jobs. This report is a welcome contribution to the debate and we look forward to the government making its decision in due course."

The Government will publish its substantive response to the review before the summer parliamentary recess.

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