Welcome to the June issue of our monthly public affairs bulletin, BASCA Briefing.
This month BASCA representatives were in Brussels for the highly-informative World Copyright Summit. Much of what was discussed at the Summit was previously known to us, but the event proved useful in that many speakers and panelists delved into the details about what we can expect from the European Commission, in terms of copyright and IP enforcement, over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, BASCA CEO Patrick Rackow took to the Summit stage, interviewing Jean Michel Jarre. We won’t discuss that here (log on to the BASCA website if you would like to read about it), but needless to say, it was highly entertaining and enlightening. Instead, this Briefing focuses on the EC’s upcoming draft directives; the US’ approach to digital IP rights and the star of the show, Indian composer, lobbyist and trailblazer Javed Akhtar.
We hope you will find it useful; if you would like any further information, please telephone us on 0207 636 2929 or email email@example.com
COMMENT – WCS: Travelling Hopefully
In his closing speech to the World Copyright Summit (WCS) CISAC President Robin Gibb said he was looking forward to the draft directive on Collective Rights Management. This was due to be published by the European Commission in September (as we mentioned in the May edition of the BASCA Briefing), some nine months after the date we were originally told to expect it. Robin went on to lament that the process was taking so long, a complaint that was further exacerbated by the news that the September date has now been shifted to the start of 2012.
The inevitable frustration at further delays was, however, balanced by messages coming from Commissioners Barnier, Kroes and members of their teams. Their speeches implied that the Commission is taking time to ensure that it has thought through the implications of the draft legislation and that it will take the form of laying out ground rules, rather than taking an overly prescriptive line. They have also made clear that they see collective management of rights as an essential part of the way forward for licensing music rights across Europe. BASCA is encouraged by this but realises that the EC will not solve all of the issues that we face. This will only be done by constant dialogue between the interested parties, something which gatherings such as the WCS help to promote.
COMMENT – WCS: Beyond Europe to India
Whilst much of the business at the WCS was concerned with what is happening in Europe (perhaps because it was held in Brussels), one of the most inspiring events was the interview conducted by BASCA Media Executive member and Board observer Simon Darlow with Javed Akhtar.
Javed is a legend in Bollywood as a scriptwriter and lyricist. Over the last few years he has become an activist on behalf of creators and a thorn in the side of the Indian collecting society, IPRS.
As a direct result of the efforts to expose the plight of Indian writers, who are obliged give away all rights to their music, amendments to India’s copyright law are to be brought before parliament in the next few months, offering protection to creators. In supporting the cause of the underdog, Javed has seen losses to his income in that he no longer receives money from IPRS. But his campaign has produced results and also gained him an invitation to take a seat in the upper house of the Indian parliament.
Javed Akhtar was a charming, witty, passionate speaker. Not only did he win the respect of almost all who heard him, but he changed the tone of the rest of the Summit - he made us all feel more cheerful and positive.
COMMENT – WCS: US approach to copyright: a benchmark for all?
Among almost 40 WCS panels and seminars, we were particularly struck with the speech delivered by President Obama's coordinator for IP Enforcement, Victoria Espinel.
It was indeed a coup for the conference organisers that someone of Espinel’s standing took time from her undoubtedly hectic schedule to attend the event and we felt honoured to witness her moment on the stage.
We learnt a great deal from Espinel about the US’s approach to copyright and enforcement of rights and we would like to share some of those with you.
First and foremost, President Obama is taking a direct interest in matters relating to copyright. He recently created a new cabinet-level intellectual property enforcement committee that Espinel will chair to help further focus the Administration's efforts. The committee’s first accomplishment was the issuing of an IP strategy last June - almost exactly a year ago.
It outlined three specific aims and ambitions: 1) Making sure there are robust IP laws and they are properly enforced. 2) Engaging the private sector, and creating voluntary solutions through productive conversations. 3) Educating consumers on the importance of IP.
Since then, Espinel’s team has achieved the following: in March, they made 20 recommendations for legislative changes to Congress to strengthen enforcement. One of those is to make sure that illegal streaming is a felony. They have also worked closely with ISPs, advertisers, credit card companies, payment processors, search engines, domain name registrars and registries to take action against illegal activity. Finally, the Department Of Justice has committed to fund public awareness campaigns on the risks to the public who purchase pirated or counterfeit goods.
Espinel also explained that her department has been looking closely at the issue of the ‘Cloud’. She stated, “The flexibility and capacity of the ‘Cloud’ - as the Internet has for many years - will continue to shape consumer desire. So the ‘Cloud’ may accelerate the pace at which we need to address these (IP) issues.”
We applaud this particular approach by the US government to protect the rights of creators and would like to suggest, with all due respect, that a similar, more coordinated and engaged approach in the UK and Europe would be welcome.
A list of the places and events at which BASCA’s Directors and staff represented its membership last month and will represent its membership next month:
UK Music Rights Committee
SKAP Spring Dinner - Stockholm
The Ivors at the British Music Experience with David Gray
The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
GRD Workgroup Meetings
The Ivor Novello Awards
Conservative Creative Industries and Arts Networking Meeting
CIAM Executive Committee, Brussels
World Copyright Summit, Brussels
PPL AGM, London
Bolt Burdon Members event
LIPA London Showcase
UK Music Board meeting
UK Music Rights Committee
NMC Executive Committee
Seminar - “Is it possible to compete with free” Brussels
For further information, to subscribe or to stop receiving this newsletter, please contact Nicola Slade at BASCA
020 7636 2929 firstname.lastname@example.org
BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, is the professional association for all music writers in the UK; with over 2,000 members, it is the single voice for British music creators.