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MPs to investigate IPO

Republished from Pandion IP, with permission. It would be rather good to get some response to this investigation from the IP blogosphere, seeing as how it has been so strangely mute about the other great IP story of the moment, the French government’s astonishing land-grab of so-called ‘out of commerce’ books published in France up until 2001. Have they all lost their tongues, or are they somehow compromised by it?

MPs to investigate IPO

‘The All-Party Intellectual Property Group of MPs yesterday announced that it is to conduct an inquiry into the role of Government in protecting and promoting Intellectual Property.

There has been increasing disquiet amongst the IP community at what some have seen as the IPO’s apparent enthusiasm for implementing Professor Hargreaves’ recommendations regardless of the impact on the rights of copyright owners. Even though there are good bits – like the support for the creation of digital copyright exchanges and the tweaking of the fair use for private copying exemption to reflect current real world use (such as copying lawfully-acquired music from one format to another) both the orphan works proposals and the extended collective licensing ones would see swathes of UK and foreign creators lose the right to control and in some cases receive any reward for use of their work.

Quite separately, there is a question to be addressed about the proper role of the IPO. Is there a tension between its function as the independent validator and granter of legal registered IP rights, its current activity in developing and implementing IP policy, its provision of commercial IP services in competition with the private sector and/or its enthusiasm to take on (per Hargreaves recommendation) the issue of statutory opinions on copyright issues? Some of us were brought up on a doctrine of the British constitution that relied on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. Is that doctrine still applicable today?

This is an opportunity for the legal IP community to express any concerns at a level where they will be heard. Although the current major programmes in the IPO relate to copyright and designs, those whose major interests are patents and trade marks might want to bear in mind that they could be next.

This investigation is working to a very tight timetable because it wants to feed its findings into the White Paper due in early summer. Submissions responding to their six questions must be submitted by 30th March. There is a limit of four pages so massive detail is not required but examples or evidence supporting comments will be helpful.’