Welcome to the April issue of our monthly public affairs bulletin, BASCA Briefing. A digest of current activities and BASCA policy, in each issue the Briefing will provide a short introduction to our active campaigns, and look at news issues from the music writers’ point of view.
IN THIS BRIEFING —
- Comment — Hargreaves Report
- Comment — Waiting on EU initiatives
- Comment — US — Pot Kettle Black?
This month it’s a case of waiting….not just for the Hargreaves report into IP and copyright, but also a paper from DG Internal Market on IP strategy and if that wasn’t enough, an EC draft legislative instrument on collective management of rights. Gazing into a crystal ball feels relatively pointless, but we highlight here why these reports are important to our community. Meanwhile, we look across the water to our friends in the US who this week issued a “Special 301 Report” highlighting more than 30 countries which to some extent fail to address the issue of IP protection.
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 — Upcoming Hargreaves Report
We are only days away from the publication of the government’s Independent Review of IP and Growth, led by Prof. Ian Hargreaves. Plenty of intimations have been dropped and Hargreaves himself has blogged about the pros and cons of re-inventing copyright.
Whether you set store by any premature predictions or observations (most of which do not amount to a great deal), or you don’t, BASCA believes this is a pivotal moment for the whole creative sector to up its game and demonstrate how effectively it can work together in sustaining the structure which underpins its existence.
A strong IP framework, we reaffirm, is synonymous with growth, particularly if rights owners can pull together collectively, avoid fragmentation and resist the temptation to ring fence rights and territories.
The Bentham philosophy of the greatest good for the greatest number may not sit entirely well with the notion of competition, but there are enough worthy and successful examples in both politics and business to lend it credence.
The collective, or partnership, approach is about economies of scale, shared resources, transparent methods and the benefits of community. If one community thrives then there is a good chance that this prosperity, if properly harnessed, will send beneficial ripples over a much wider area.
Specific to our sector, BASCA applauds initiatives which remove unnecessary duplication or complexity, welcomes change to increase efficiency, transparency and inclusivity and seeks partnerships which embrace the recognition of value and the fairness of an equitable return.
COMMENT — Palely Loitering
As we mention above, we are awaiting the results of Prof. Hargreaves’ deliberations. On a wider European stage we are also waiting for a blue paper setting out the European Commission IP Strategy. The paper, prepared by DG Internal Market, will set out how the Commission proposes to drive the growth that it recognises the creative sector provides. BASCA understands that the paper will set out the Commission’s aim to protect the value of IP rights whilst improving the availability of creative content. It will also flag the development of a European Copyright Code, the first step on the road to a European copyright title, as well as the desire to harmonise the system of private copying levies. In a speech last month in Linz, Internal Market cabinet member Kerstin Jorna, described the paper as a “political risk”. BASCA believes that the risk of not having a coherent strategy is surely greater still.
Also awaited is the much-heralded draft legislative instrument on collective management of rights, again emanating from Michel Barnier’s Internal Market Directorate. In the same speech in Linz, Frau Jorna stated that the draft would be ready by the end of the summer and would set out “ground rules” for all collecting societies and would also seek to enable those societies to act in the best interests of their members and other stakeholders, including music users. The instrument will deal with accountability, transparency, dispute settlement and relationships with users, as well as the thorny issue of multi-territory licensing of music for online use. Whatever the Commission proposes will set the tone for the coming years and will have an effect on the income and futures of all music writers. BASCA and ECSA have worked hard to ensure that the voice of the authors has been heard: now we look forward to the result.
COMMENT — Pot Kettle Black?
US Congress this week issued its annual "Special 301 Report” detailing those countries whose IP rights protections do not meet its approval. 12 countries have been placed on the “Priority Watch” list including China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada ("failing to bring its laws up to global minimum standards for the digital networked environment"), India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand. A further 29 countries have been placed on a less severe, but equally worrying ‘Watch List’ including many EU and/or EEA countries such as Finland, Greece, Norway and Spain.
The announcement of the list interestingly coincides with new moves in China to protect online IP rights with the introduction of a DMCA-style policy. Internet Service Providers are now required to automatically take down infringing copyrighted works within 24 hours upon notice by the copyright owner.
BASCA is encouraged by the actions of both the US and China in this arena and welcomes in particular the efforts by the US to create, in its own words, “a springboard for ambitious and collaborative partnerships…to strengthen protection for the innovation and creativity that drives jobs and exports.”
However, might we be mindful of the enjoiner, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Let’s not forget that the US still fails to comply with the TRIPS agreement in so far as it created an exception in its Copyright Law 1998 that dictates that 70% of its Bars and Grills are not obliged to pay license fees to songwriters, composers and music publishers when they air music on their premises via radio or TV.
For further information or to subscribe to 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.