Patent and copyright laws in the UK must be updated to make them fit for purpose in the digital age, an independent review concludes.
The review calls for a relaxation of laws covering the transfer of music and video between devices, and the establishment of an independent body to aid negotiations between rights holders and firms looking to license digital content.
Ian Hargreaves, a digital economy professor who led the review, claims outdated copyright laws are stifling innovation in a world where copying information is a basic requirement of many new businesses, and where consumers routinely transfer music and video between multiple devices.
“The copyright regime cannot be considered fit for the digital age when millions of citizens are in daily breach of copyright, simply for shifting a piece of music or video from one device to another. People are confused about what is allowed and what is not, with the risk that the law falls into disrepute,” Hargreaves states.
Hargreaves calls for creative firms to establish more open markets where content can be more readily exchanged, claiming that current laws place too much emphasis on protecting artists.
“IP law must adapt to change. Digital communications technology involves routine copying of text, images and data, meaning that copyright law has started to act as a regulatory barrier,” he notes. “The UK cannot afford to let a legal framework designed around artists impede vigorous participation in these emerging business sectors.”
The report highlighted a problem in the way piracy is measured, with Hargreaves noting reliable data on the scale of the problem was hard to come by. However, the figures available lead Hargreaves to suggest the government should seek to educate users and establish open markets for legitimate content, rather than rely on enforcement alone.