WEDNESDAY 3 AUG 2011 11:02 AM


The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review on the modernisation of intellectual property law in a move that could add an estimated £7.9 billion to the UK economy.

A key section of the Review, which was unveiled in November 2010 by the Prime Minister and led by Professor Ian Hargreaves, concerns the introduction of copyright exceptions for limited private copying and for parody, and the development of a Digital Copyright Exchange to simplify the buying and selling of licenses, enabling copyright law to be brought up to date with modern life.

The announcement will have far-reaching implications for UK businesses, and the Government’s enthusiastic uptake of the recommendations is based in the belief that more open intellectual property laws will encourage innovative businesses to develop in the UK and bring about growth opportunities for the national economy.

One business to have read the announcement with interest is Meltwater, whose case with the PRCA vs the Newspaper Licensing Agency was ruled on last week in the Court of Appeal. The latest ruling in that case stated that users of media monitoring and news aggregator services were infringing copyright by reading articles online without a license from the NLA or individual publisher.

There is allowance in the Review for the introduction of an exception to copyright for “search and analysis techniques known as ‘text and data mining’”, with the stated example being in the case of scientific research. Whilst recognising the tangible value that scientific research contributes to the economy, some see it as a mis-step not to apply the same recognition to the intangible value that reputation has for business, and to fail to apply the exception to companies using search and analysis to measure that asset.

Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, believes that the acceptance of the Hargreaves Review is a step in the right direction. “This vindicates our belief that copyright needs to work with UK businesses and not against them. The UK government has today committed itself to a significant overhaul of copyright law in order to ensure it is in tune with today’s world.”

The effect of the new systems on the ongoing case of Meltwater and the PRCA vs the NLA remains to be seen – the PRCA and Meltwater are seeking to appeal the recent Court of Appeal judgment in the Supreme Court, and a Copyright Tribunal hearing in October will examine the NLA’s license terms. Richard Ellis, communications director at the PRCA, comments that the Government’s response to the review is “both welcome and necessary.”